Troubleshooting receptacle

On of my receptacles which is the last one in the series showes to have an open ground as detected by my plug in test set. When i test with my non contact voltage pen and move it near the neutral on the receptacle it beeps showing the presence of current. None of my other receptacles do that. The receptacle prior to this one test just fine. I removed the last bad receptacle and verfiied that the ground wire is secured on. Also the hot and neutral wires are inserted at the back of the receptacle instead of being screwed on. Before i go about replacing the receptacle is there anything else to try. thanks
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david wrote:

Now (carefully, of course) open the next-to-last box and check that the other end of that ground wire is connected the way it should be.
Also

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CJT wrote:

Good advice.

Buy a new, high quality receptacle. $2.00 will not kill you, but a fire could. Really cheap insurance. Yea, eliminate those back stabbed connections.
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Thanks, yes i do plan on eliminating the back stabbed connections this weekend. Also the next to last box has its ground connected the way it should be. thanks
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the device you are using is not as reliable as a meter. next tools to buy: digital multimeter. and a gfi tester [like an outlet polarity tester with a test button].
basic wiring info at: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/electrical-wiring/part1 /
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david wrote:

Make sure the hot and neutral wires have not been reversed on the receptacle. -Felder
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For my information, what is an "open ground" and how do you test for it? What's the significance?
Thanks, Chet

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I used a test set i got at a home depot which u plug into the receptacle display a series of lights with tell you whether the wiring is "reversed" "open ground" etc etc.
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david wrote:

Note that these testers will indicate a bad ground but don't necessarily indicate a good ground. If the ground is high resistance they will still indicate the ground as being good. You have to draw significant current to test for a good ground.
Also a digital meter may give less accurate results. Digital meters have a very high resistance. With 2 wires run together, one hot and the other not connected to anything, a digital meter may measure voltage on the disconnected wire through capacitive coupling. A low resistance analog meter is likely more accurate. Or a meter in parallel with a 100W lite bulb.
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thanks, how would u test with a 100 W light bulb to make sure the ground is good.
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I guess you could cut the plug off a lamp and connect the wires to the meter, the same way the probes are connected. This would be for testing voltage only.
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david wrote:

I think there is a lot of hip hopping around about your problem.
First, you should believe your plug in circuit tester, but realize that if you have more than one problem, the reading may be a bit quirky. OTOH, I'm not sure I would believe the voltage pen.
The first step is to replace the receptacle with screw type wire connectors because you should do that anyway. Make sure that you wire it correctly and don't reverse the polarity. Then plug in your circuit tester and see what it reads. Chances are it will be fixed.
If you really want to test the ground with a load, and understand that almost no one does (they just test for continuity), then test with a 100 watt bulb. Unplug any type of small lamp (table or work lamp), attach flexible leads tightly to the neutral and the hot plug points. I would look for a plug with holes in the plugs and use small bolts to attach the wires. Do what you feel necessary for safety, e.g., wrap the plug in tape. Touch one lead to the hot slot of the receptacle and one to the grounding hole. You probably shouldn't do such a test except on a circuit with a regular breaker.
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wrote:

Get a lite bulb. 65% fewer calories than a regular bulb :-)
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CGB wrote:

My understanding of open ground is that the ground terminal is not connected to ground. It's a severe safety hazard.

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"open" means not connected. The ground to that receptacle is not connected. You may measure 0 volts (with nothing connected), but it will not act as a safety ground. This is not a grounded outlet.
Also, according to another poster, this could be a symptom of a hot-neutral reversal. This should be fixed. Then check the ground again.

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