Circuit tester question?

I have results from my circuit tester that have clearly confused me, and wanted to know if anyone has experienced this before, and more importantly what it might indicate.
Using a basic GB circuit tester at a home yesterday, I found three outlets that illuminate all three of the testers lights. I have seen this a couple times before, but just noted the unusual reading and told the buyers to have an electrician review the condition.
It has been very rare though (about 3 houses in 2,350)…
Any one know what this could indicate?

Shawn & Rebecca Schrader 06-07-06 027.jpg

Your picture only shows the left and center lights on…
Sometimes looking at these at an angle or in sunlight will cause a light to appear on when not.

It is not possible for all three to be on at once due to the way it is wired.
If you are sure of this, then it must be multiple faults that could involve the tester having a problem too.

If you’ve inspected 2,350 homes I think you should spring for a SureTest.

Bruce…that first picture does not show the third light well… I thought someone might think that it was just the left and center also. All three were actually lit.
In this second picture you can see that I removed the covers to verify. It may still not show it well because of the flash. But all three are really lit. The center is strongly lit and the left and right lamps are dim. On one the left and center lamp intentsity would increase and decrease.

Shawn & Rebecca Schrader 06-07-06 028.jpg

Sorry…too much flash…for some reason when I upload the pics they are worse when attached to the post. I can see it better in my photo program.
Anyway they are all lit…sorry about the pics.

When the cheap tester leaves you with questions, you *really *should have the SureTest to back you up.

Adam, A Plus

I beg to differ Bruce. I’ve have had it happen to me as well. The receptacle was wired with 240 volts.

Sorry Paul I am a retired Electrician, Do not have a sure test can not see
why a home inspector should have one .
I feel that a person can have many more pieces of equipment then they need .
Where do you draw the line how many toys should we as His have.
Roy Sr

Good call Jef have not had it happen but I do believe you hit the nail on the head.
Roy sr

I was later told, that it was a mis-wired multiwire circuit (although I never verified this).

What does the amount of homes inspected have to do with the tools that an inspector should have or not?
I have considered getting a Sure Test…but it is like anything else…where do you stop…clearly it exceeds our inspection SOP…and that is OK…but it is an individual business decision. Every inspector has to determine their limits as to how far beyond SOP we are going to stray…moisture meters, Infrared devices, air sampling units, and the list goes on and on.

So Paul H, if you are saying you don’t have an answer for the question, I’ll accept that, …as I don’t know it either, and had to ask it.
Again this is an extremely rare condition I have found in an extremely small percentage of homes…the basic tester has served reasonably well on most homes. I know it won’t test voltage drop, high resistance, etc. etc. These tests are beyond the SOP, and I have chosen not to exceed SOP in this area currently.

Maybe Paul Abernathy knows the answer?

I already gave you the answer Harold. The circuits are wired with 240 volts.

I am wondering the same thing Jeff about the possibility of 120 coming in on both legs…(totaling 240)
Of course these deficiencies are noted in the report, and I have recommended they have it diagnosed and repaired by an electrician. There are a multitude of other wiring deficiencies in the home to keep this electrician busy for a while.

Thanks Jeff…was writing while you posted your reply…did not see it was there. I appreciate the information!

I believe it was Joe (Hagarty or Farsetta, I don’t recall) who found this same issue some time ago, and posted it in our (now archived) forum.

Their conclusion was the same - 240 volt circuit.

I did not think of 240V… good point Jeff, that is the only real possibility since a tester would not fail in that manner and no combination of hot, N and Gnd could cause it.

FYI…a standard 125V 15A and 20A receptacle SHOULD not be 240 volts…a TRUE recepacle that is rated for 240V will need to have a plug configuration that meets that and I do not belive the testers conform to that.

It will be in the NEMA # 6 rating…if it is 240V…and the normal tester should not FIT in this receptacle.

WAIT…I just forgot…since when does the Happy Home Owner listed to reason…FORGET the thought…lol

15A/125V Rated

15A/250V Rated

20A/125V Rated

20A/250V Rated

While i agree that a home inspector can have many more pieces of equipment than they need, i disagree that you should put all your faith in an $8.00 testing device when testing one of the most used and potentially dangerous components of the home. I think it goes with the whole ‘professional’ home inspector thing.

Just my opinion.

Adam, A Plus