All The Pretty Lights

I was inspecting a manufactured home with an attached shed. I used my handy dandy outlet tester and all three lights came on. The outlets were on an incorrectly wired sub-panel (No separate ground and neutral bars) and the H/N’s were backwards on the outlets. Would that cause all three lights to come on or maybe just the panel wiring?

That’s usually caused by 240 volts at the receptacle. You verify with a voltmeter or a SureTest, but that’s been my experience.

There were 20 amp breakers serving the outlets.

If easy to do you might have thought about taking off the plate
and using a multi meter.

$5 neon tester. Good for dryer outlets and checking line/load wiring on disconnects.

When that happens, I usually just say “erratic readings when tested with 3-light tester” warranting corrective action accordingly by an electrician.

In that case you might as well use the ticker.
Mine has a dial for sensitivity and you can check both slots individually .

Nope. It’s defective I’ll let the sparky figure it out. I did speak with one and he told me that if there are two problems on the same circuit all three lights will light up.

A ticker is not a reliable test method a 120v/240v tester is.

He was wrong.

Three lights indicates 240 volts.

You guys need to get Multi-Meters, then you know whats going on while your at the property, nothing more embarrassing then saying their is a problem, and not knowing what the problem might be.

A simple test instrument like Chuck posted does in fact cost about $5.00 at Home Depot, Lowes, Ace. But a Multi-Meter Test Instrument is essential in this business…and/or an Ideal Tester too.

It was on a 110 circuit.

I’m not an electrician and I don’t do technically exhaustive inspections. As stated before the sub-panel was wired incorrectly as well as the individual outlets.

Did you take off the cover plate and verify that? Did you check the circuit with a volt-meter? Did you trace the circuit from the receptacle to the panel?

If you answered yes to any of these, I will take your word for it. If your answer is “no” to all of these, then it’s far more likely that I am correct.

I have experienced this on many occasions. I have also verified it every time with a volt-meter or SureTest. In every instance, it was a mis-wire that resulted in a 240 volt circuit.

Think about it;

Open Neutral = 1 light
Open Ground = 1 light
Open Hot = No light
Reversed Hot/Neutral = one red, one yellow (even with an open-ground)
Reversed Neutral/Ground = Normal reading, two yellow (except with an open hot, then no lights)

Only two possibilities left (1) Reversed Hot/Ground = I’ve never experienced that, so I can’t say what it will show, (2) 240 volt circuit = Three Lights.

I didn’t. The electrician did. He said that it was 110.

Really? Then what was the problem?

I said use a multimeter however I can use my ticker on a low setting to determine which side is hot or both.

When running room to room you may or may not have a swiss army blade full of tools at the time and knowing little tricks can help save it.

Not all tickers have a sensitivity setting however mine does and is more sensitive than most.
Not even sure if the stores carry that type anymore.

Don’t hedge your bets against Jeff. He is dead on. An open neutral upstream of this receptacle (between the receptacle and the panel) that also serves another circuit tapped from the opposite phase can and will create this issue. That is true even if all the circuits from the panel are single pole, 120 volt. This is a common occurrence in commercial and industrial applications where 120 volt multi wire branch circuits share a common neutral.

Jeff, you should have been an electrician in your past vocation. Dad burn iron workers didn’t need to be that smart, lol. :stuck_out_tongue: (no offense to the masters of erection)

It doesn’t matter how sensitive your tic tester is. it still can’t tell a 240V circuit from 2 120v circuits on the same leg (i.e., no potential).

:smiley: I knew next to nothing about 'lectricity before I became a 'spector, other than, it doesn’t play nicely with steel.