Circuit tester

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My house was built in 1952 and I am not the original owner. The original part of the house has 2 wire Romex WITHOUT ground since it was a post WW II home built for returning servicemen. Attic and gargage have 3 wire Romex and is installed correctly.
When I plug a CIRCUIT TESTER - the kind of thing you buy in Depot or similar with 3 neon lights on it = a yellow, red, clear lens - I get readings that are not on the sample display on the label on the unit.
They give readings for CORRECT or REVERSED POLARITY, OPEN GROUND, OPEN HOT, etc.
I get the YELLOW lens BRIGHTLY LIT and BOTH the red and clear lenses DIMLY LIT on any number of wall outlets.
Without "smart" answers, anyone have an idea of what to look for ?????
House has been this way for better part of 32 years.
TIA
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I have been replacing the outlets in my living room/dining room. I thought I had it but my circuit tester (plug in type that shows different combinations of lights) is showing no lights lit and a message of "open hot" on the legend. I lost my instructions to decipher what this means. What should I be looking for to correct this?
Thanks
--
Edee Em
I know the truth is out there, but I like to stay in....
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It means the power is off to that outlet. Maybe just have to turn on a switch

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Typically means that the black wire isn't making contact. Or, the breaker hasn't been rest.
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Christopher A. Young
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edee em wrote:

It means the outlet is dead. Perhaps the black wire is disconnected or the circuit breaker is blown.
These testers check three things;
1. lamp 1 on -- voltage exists between HOT and NEUTRAL 2. lamp 2 on -- voltage exists between HOT and GROUND 3. lamp 3 off -- no voltage exists between NEUTRAL and GROUND
Note:
HOT = narrow blade = black wire NEUTRAL = wide blade = white wire GROUND = rounded blade = bare wire
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I'm not exactly clear on your situation. Your non grounded romex shouldn't have standard grounded outlets attached to it. I believe your outlet tester has a ground prong. I'm curious as to what the outlet grounds are connected to. Possibly the neutral wire?

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OP HERE >>>>>>>
I ended up changing the 2 prong outlets to 3 prong outlets to avoid the nuisance of using an adapter sticking out with the plug about 3 inches from the wall.
I know everyone will say it is ILLEGAL.
I can still buy 2 prong duplexes from Lowes in my area for $1.64 each - expensive compared to 3 prong for about 40 each in boxes of 10.
Back to the original post >>>>>>>>>>
I was careful to put the wires on the new 3 prong duplexes in same fashion as the old 2 prong units - observing the BRASS and SHINY color coding on the duplex outlets. Of course that assumes the original stuff had not been changed. If the original wiring was correct, then I should be getting a NO GROUND reading on the tester AFAIK.
1) I would appreciate it if someone could give me a few clues as to what to look for.
2) In the past, I have heard of people putting SILICONE sealant into the ground plug or putting a label saying NO GROUND onto the plate cover. Would either of those meet any kind of codes in a grand fathered in WW II house ? The ground with silicone would NOT allow it to be used. 3) One poster mentioned POLARITY REVERSED or WORSE . 4) Like what ??? What should I be looking for ???
I am comtemplating moving if I can find something to afford to move into in today' s market - maybe PA. I don't want surprises from the house inspector if I can avoid it and remedy it myself.
TIA
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OP HERE >>>>>>>
I ended up changing the 2 prong outlets to 3 prong outlets to avoid the nuisance of using an adapter sticking out with the plug about 3 inches from the wall.
I know everyone will say it is ILLEGAL.
I can still buy 2 prong duplexes from Lowes in my area for $1.64 each - expensive compared to 3 prong for about 40 each in boxes of 10.
Back to the original post >>>>>>>>>>
I was careful to put the wires on the new 3 prong duplexes in same fashion as the old 2 prong units - observing the BRASS and SHINY color coding on the duplex outlets. Of course that assumes the original stuff had not been changed. If the original wiring was correct, then I should be getting a NO GROUND reading on the tester AFAIK.
1) I would appreciate it if someone could give me a few clues as to what to look for.
2) In the past, I have heard of people putting SILICONE sealant into the ground plug or putting a label saying NO GROUND onto the plate cover. Would either of those meet any kind of codes in a grand fathered in WW II house ? The ground with silicone would NOT allow it to be used. 3) One poster mentioned POLARITY REVERSED or WORSE . 4) Like what ??? What should I be looking for ???
I am comtemplating moving if I can find something to afford to move into in today' s market - maybe PA. I don't want surprises from the house inspector if I can avoid it and remedy it myself.
TIA
You are correct, just changing the wires should now give you "no ground" at all the outlets. But if you get different light combinations, you have problems that can't be answered in emails
Pointless to put silicone in the ground hole And labels saying "no ground" will only be for your own benefit.
Using the 2 hole plugs "MAY" be the least (most correct) of all evils, so that at least people will readily know there is no ground
No solution will "meet code" now if you have no grounds.
If you don't know what reversed polarity or worse ( hot in ground) means. I would suggest you get in a proper electrician to see it and give you an honest evaluation.
Saving a few bucks won't offer you any value in the longrun. If you should have a fire, and an insurance inspector finds messed up wiring, even if the cause was not wiring related, good luck getting a check
And even the most inept home inspectors can usually spot a wiring problem in outlets. (they use the same neon plug you do)
You may find that rewiring, while expensive, may still pay back when you sell.
But if after this you STILL want to try yourself.
FIRST,....shut off the power at the main breaker/fuse
A 1950's house should have easily identified colors on the wires. Whites, blacks, and the occasional red (that can be considered a black)
black (and red) should be HOT white should be NEUTRAL note "should" assuming there are not other problems with wiring elsewhere in the circuits, or you are working in switch boxes.
On the outlets there will be the two "power" holes, and if you look close one is slightly longer than the other the longer one is for the neutral (white)
Under no circumstances should you EVER connect anything to the ground screw other than a devoted ground wire. Even if some idiot here or elsewhere tells you you can jump the neutral there.
AMUN
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I had the same situation in my house. I was able to replace some of the 2 prong outlets to GFCI outlets. It is code in my jurisdiction, plus it will protect you since there is no ground on the circuit. I think the only thing you have to do is label each outlet downstream of the GFCI outlet.
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Uh, no way.
NO GFI outlet will ever work without a ground wire.
It may have power, but is merely a very expensive duplex outlet, and would not meet any codes. (But could fool a naive home/electrical inspector who didn't test it)
GFI's compare the power going through them is always equal in both directions during each AC cycle, and use the ground wire as a reference.
No ground wire, no gfi protection.
Did you mean a GFI breaker in the panel on the circuit?
Still not really as good as a proper ground, but better than nothing.
But just thinking since the earlier response.
Some areas in the late 50's did require romex with a ground wire but only required the ground wire go to the metal box and allowed grounding outlets, where there was no ground wire connected directly to the outlet, just protected through the mounting screws. (as with switches)
Check to see if this might be in your case.
Easy enough to see just look in the fuse/breaker panel box to see if ground wires are there and connected
If so you can just use a jumper from the outlet ground screw to the box.
AMUN
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OP here again>>>>>>>>>.
There are no ground wires of any kind in this Romex. When I moved in the house had 4 15amp breakers with NO main breaker. A gargage was put up and panel wiring relocated up and over the attic to the outside wall about 30 years ago. Township inspector came down and approved install. Local utility found it OK .
My neighbor suggested "jumping the neutral" but I said ABSOLUTELY NO WAY.
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aha, you give us another clue
It may not have had a main breaker but will have a main shutoff switch with fuses mounted very close to the panel.
if wiring is correct at the outlets ?
If the panel was moved/changed and wires had to be spliced/extended someone may have reversed a few connections at a splice.
The inspector may have looked at the panel, then just took it for granted everything else was okay too.
But I have seen "inspectors" check repairs who never open anything up and sign off. Sometimes they don't even enter the building <g>
You may have more of a nightmare than you first thought.
AGAIN, if you are not comfortable, a good electrician can check it and tell you if there are any big problems.
AMUN
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Amun wrote:
<snipped it all>
Seems you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground about electrical topics. Always suspicious about thems that know too much about too many things.
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So if you are so much smarter why didn't you answer first ?
GFI's with no ground are absolutely against code here. (label or not) And an inspector would rake you over the coals for doing it.
I'll bet you still think he should have just jumped the neutrals over and be done with it too.
AMUN
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Amun wrote:

GFCI outlets work correctly without a ground. The NEC allows grounded GFCIs on circuits without a ground (the ground is connected to nothing). The outlets have to be marked "No equipment ground", a label that is often included with the GFCI.
A grounded outlet may also be connected on a circuit without a ground available if the outlet is protected by a GFCI (including downstream from a GFCI outlet). The outlet must be marked "GFCI protected" and "No equipment ground".
(Reference: 2005NEC 406.3(D)(3).)
Other installation of a grounded outlet with no ground available is a code violation and can be dangerous. A home inspector should find this. In addition, you may be liable if this causes injuries after the house is sold (although I am not a lawyer and do not play one on TV).
Bud--
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I could be wrong, but I thought the way a GFI works is that it compares current traveling in the hot to current traveling in the neutral. I thought the ground had nothing to do with it.
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Actually a GFCI will work just fine with no grounding wire.
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wrote:

GFCIs work just fine without a ground connected! Code would require that the outlet be marked "No Equipment Ground" outlets downstream should be marked "GFCI Protected-No Equipment Ground", Do it that way and you will be code legal. The cheap outlet testers won't trip the GFCI, but the test button will.
Dan. and yes, I am an electrical inspector.
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would
ground
Hmmm,....
With all these answers saying a GFI can work without a ground I had to check for myself.
Seems that I was somwhat wrong. But not totally.
I checked around and while some people claim they will work, none of the manufacturers recommend using these without grounds.
In some areas they do allow them in retrofits without grounds. (with a label) Other places say absolutely NO WAY.
None allow it in new construction without a ground.
So I guess once again it depends on your local codes and the inspector who comes out. Or to put it simpler, you can do what you think is best.
But in any case you still have to make sure your hot and neutral wires are correct.
AMUN
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check
If they don't work then what are the things on the newer hair dryers ? The one my wife uses only had a 2 wire plug.
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