open ground/reverse polarity

Does anyone have any idea what would cause these readings? The one picture shows an ungrounded receptactle (veified by multimeter) and the secon picture shows the same receptacle with the washer plugged in. Also with the washer plugged in the downstream receptacle did not show reversed polarity.

Riles Hardy 171.jpg

Riles Hardy 172.jpg

Hi Charles,

the first thought that comes to mind is that I believe the model of SureTest that you have is the one they had issues with.

The second thought is this, but I do not know the answer to it. Hows does that model of Suretest prioritise the issues that it reads, for example if the outlet is damaged and not able to “read” the ground, could it be defaulting to that setting rather than the reversed polarity???



I am just guessing but this is only two wires feeding the plug any you could be picking up a partial ground through the washer and you equipment now shows what you have .
Now when you go down stream the receptical there might be wired correctly and it could be picking the ground up from the washer.
There could be another explanation but I would not be surprised if I am correct.
Roy Cooke

The Shuretest can not check for rev polarity without a ground reference

Ground supplied through washer

Remember with no ground and AC on one wire it is the same as the other

Down stream receptacle has rev polarity


Good one Richard that makes sense … kinda :wink:

seriously I bet that is the anwer, it is a multiple fault condition.



Now we need someone to take a shuretest to a washing machine and see if they can dup. all our educated guesses.

Anyone up for it??


This shows why it is important to write up all outlet wiring issues as “improperly wired” and don’t try to be the troubleshooter. It can backfire easily if you try to report exactly what is wrong. Many repairmen around here will only do what they are told and not one inch further.

Do not have a suretest and do not want one .
I find bad pug right it up and move on.

Roy Cooke


I don’t have one either but properly used test equipment is an asset and does give our clients a better understanding of their home

At this time we are only guessing at the problem

Perhaps someone from Suretest can help us out


I am and electrician and am sure with out a suretest I can find and fix problems in the home .
Why should we buy equipment not needed and increase our liability.
I like Kiss ( keep it simple stupid ) .
As My son taught me.
( Write Hard talk softy and miss nothing )
So far workes for me, stayed out of court.

It’s no my job ( bad English I know ) .
Bad plug needs to be repaired or replaced by qualified person .
Condensate leak or toilet runs constantly missing shingles Report and move on.
I am not saying I do not give tips and ideas but do try to stay away completely from diagnostic.
If I am give them the wrong fix who do you think they will blame .
Roy Cooke

My guess is the ground is missing, suretest working OK
There is also a ground fault in the washer that makes current flow back to the neutral, suretest still working OK. The second test would be to touch the washer can with your voltage ticker.
This is a pretty simple tool, you have to think what it is really testiing, not just what it says.


I should hope so – this is only three wires

It is not a nuclear power plant or a Steinway piano

It is only one more conductor than a flashlight

That is why I do not yet need a Shuretest. My Simpson 260 and Fluke model 77 still work.


Had an inspection the other day with several outlets showing 12-18% voltage drop, they had two sparkies say they could not find it. Client call yesterday said that his computer fried. I asked him if they fixed his outlets he said no that they could not find anything wrong. Stopped by on my way from another inspection plugged in my suretest and still showed 18% on his computer outlet. hope this don’t go anywhere. I don’t have time to go to court. but I am glad that I was able to document before hand that there was a problem.

Don’t have my simpson anymore but I still have a Fluke 27, I find that the suretest is more in line with the testing that I do as a home inspector.

Sorry you are looking for things I never look for .
Roy Cooke

Therein being part of an issue, and I agree.
Write it up as “Improperly wired” or “Damaged” or whatever, and move on.

How can a HI determine voltage drop??? How do they know what the load will be under the new owner.

The load introduced with a suretest voltage drop should not be compared to the load from a PC. The 18% voltage drop found with a 15amp load did not cause a computer to fry that draws less than 5 amps.

I agree the I do not think this had any thing to do with his computer failure.
I also would never even get involved with this in any way no discusion no thoughts this is exactly why I do not have or want a suretest .
I do a visual inspection only. They have had two other electricians have a look and found no fault.
By the sounds of this it was on your recommendation .
They would not received any info from me to even had called in out side help.

Roy Cooke

The only way I would suspect this indication as having something to do with the computer failure is if it was indicating a loose neutral on a multiwire circuit.

I use this tester for checking AFCI circuits and the ground resistance.
New homes call for AFCI in bedrooms.
Ground rods are now used because the copper water pipe has been replaced by plastic. On older houses the bonding wire was visible but now it goes to a ground rod that is not.

It also could be a lightning strike or a short down the street causing some spikes in the system .
Or it might be just a tired old computer. We all die some time .
This again should not involve the Home Inspector.
My Thoughts Roy Cooke