Surge Protector's "Fault" LED is lit, "Line OK" is unlit, is there a solution? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I live in an apartment, and the surge protector that I use for my home theater says "fault", and "Line OK" isn't lit, wherever I plug it in. Is there something I can plug between it and the wall to neutralize this? Or any other solution? Thanks

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post #2 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 04:28 PM
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What make and model? "Fault" usually means wiring fault: missing ground, or reversed neutral and hot. If that is the problem, the only thing that will make the light go off is to fix the wiring problem. FWIW, even with a wiring fault, you will still have surge protection between hot and neutral, which is all you really need.
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post #3 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
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The make is Tripp-Lite, and on the back it says:

Model: ISOBAR6DBS Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor

If it's a wiring issue, how would I find out, and where would i have to go to fix it? It seems to be an old building, would that have anything to do with it?

Also, how would i make "Line OK" light up? Tho I'm not sure exactly what it refers to...
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post #4 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 04:58 PM
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Did it work OK at this location before and then the warning light came on?

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post #5 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I never checked it before. But all the power outlets in my apartment make it say the same thing,
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post #6 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 05:12 PM
 
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How old is the building? Go to Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. and get a real line tester to check for ground wiring faults.
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post #7 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll have to ask. But, yeah, I plan to go to my local hardware store tomorrow and see if they have one. Hopefully this is the fixable kind of problem.
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post #8 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lexlynx View Post

IOBAR6DBS Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor
OK, "fault" means one of two things: either the surge protection circuity is inoperative, or something is wrong with the building wiring. "Protection Present" is lit, so the surge protection circuitry is still working. "Line OK" is off, so the problem is the building wiring.
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If it's a wiring issue, how would I find out, and where would i have to go to fix it?
If you rent, contact your landlord. If you own, hire an electrician.
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It seems to be an old building, would that have anything to do with it?
Sure could. It is possible that old two-prong receptacles were replaced with three-prong receptacles without adding the required ground. Or any of a number of other things could have happened.
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Also, how would i make "Line OK" light up?.
Fix the wiring.

I guess a word about receptacle testers is in order. If they indicate a fault, you know you have a problem. However, if they don't indicate a fault it doesn't mean there is no problem.
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post #9 of 32 Old 06-30-2013, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, I'll let my landlord know. Since he's a little stingy and might try to get out of it (he was pretty evasive when there was a rotting mouse in my walls), what are some of the dangers of not being grounded properly that I can "express my concern" about? What if he says something like "just use a surge protector"?
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post #10 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 12:35 AM
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The purpose of the ground is to ensure that the fuse or breaker for the electrical circuit trips when there is an electrical fault in a device with a three-prong plug. If the ground is not there, and there is a fault, the fuse or breaker may not trip and lethal voltage could wind up on the case of the equipment or there could be a fire. Note that this is only an issue with devices with 3-prong plugs. Devices with 2-prong plugs don't connect to the ground.

It is also almost certainly against your local electrical code to have an ungrounded 3-prong receptacle.

I think you should go ahead and get an inexpensive tester and see what it reports. If it reports something, show it to the landlord. That should be sufficient ammunition. You are already using a surge protector, but that doesn't protect you against wiring faults.

Just to be sure the problem is not the surge protector, try plugging it in in another building and see if anything changes.
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post #11 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 06:54 AM
 
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Colm, the problem with the really cheap testers, is that they do not show bootlegged grounds, so you have to open up the receptacle and look inside, to see if Neutral is connected to ground or vice versa. Most likely they have no ground at all, is why they are getting the wiring fault.

As for plugging it in another spot on the building, that wiring could be bootlegged, or fine, so we need to really look at the problem at hand, and that is this person's unit first. If they really want to stir the pot, they could contact their renters board in their area, and they will work as the in-between with the landlord to make sure this situation gets fixed.
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post #12 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 08:55 AM
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Bootleg grounds are a real problem and can be hard to find! Those little 3 LED testers are easy to trick. Mike Sokol over at the 'No Shock Zone' has a blog and video on the subject.

http://www.noshockzone.org/

videos:

http://www.youtube.com/noshockzone

1] Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground Testing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLk-6pvSlWg

2] SureTest Analyzer - Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground Testing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_04HmpFBxdQ

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post #13 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 08:56 AM
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Why not take the unit to a friend's house and see what happens.

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post #14 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post

...the problem with the really cheap testers, is that they do not show bootlegged grounds...
That is one of them.
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Most likely they have no ground at all, is why they are getting the wiring fault.
That would be the most likely problem, which is why I mentioned it.
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As for plugging it in another spot on the building...
I didn't suggest that. I said to try in another building. We already know that all the receptacles in the OP's apartment do the same thing.
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post #15 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Just got a tester and plugged it in. It says "Hot/Neutral reversed." What does that entail?
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post #16 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:13 AM
 
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Means that some idiot did not know what they were doing, when they wired the outlets. Does the tester show the same on all outlets in the house? Open the dead front on your breaker panel, what colors are connected to the breakers?
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post #17 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
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They all say it. I looked around the apartment building (it's just a 4-unit townhouse) and couldn't find a circuit breaker, only a fire alarm control panel that is locked, and a fuse box in my room.
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post #18 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:26 AM
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I guess I should say something about what can be done if this is a case of a missing ground.

The options are
  • go back to two-prong receptacles--cheap to do, changes nothing except that you can no longer plug in three-prong devices
  • add the ground--best, but expensive
  • GFCI receptacles properly labeled to indicate there is no ground--still no ground, but equivalent protection

Nevermind...
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post #19 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
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So it can show "Hot/Neutral reverse" when there really is no ground?
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post #20 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:41 AM
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The usual scenario with that indication is that there is a ground wire and the neutral and hot wires are reversed. That is a dangerous situation. Now is the time to contact your landlord and get an electrician involved.
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post #21 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Just sent an email. Hopefully he replies soon.
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post #22 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 12:02 PM
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Good luck! Let us know what happens.
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post #23 of 32 Old 07-01-2013, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
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The reply: "We will investigate the issue. The property was like this when we purchased it and we are not aware of any issues. In the meantime,if you think an outlet should not be used, then please don't use it."

Even though I said they all tested the same. Sigh, i wonder how much it would cost to just hire the electrician myself...
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post #24 of 32 Old 07-02-2013, 06:39 AM
 
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Not that much if it is maybe one hour work tops. You can verify the mixed up wiring, by making sure White is on Silver, Black is on Brass for the screws on the outlets and switches. Also by taking the dead front off the breaker panel, you can verify that Black is on the breakers, white is on the Neutral/ground bar.
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post #25 of 32 Old 07-02-2013, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Could I just fix any outlets I want to use by switching the wiring in them myself?
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post #26 of 32 Old 07-02-2013, 12:24 PM
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The only way your landlord can investigate is to have an electrician take a look. If he doesn't get one out quickly, contact your local building department, tell them what you found, and ask for an inspection. If the inspector finds something wrong, the building department will require the landlord to fix the problem.

Based on your inexperience with electrical wiring, I recommend you do not tackle this by yourself. There are lethal voltages involved. It isn't rocket science, but mistakes can be fatal, cause a fire, etc.
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post #27 of 32 Old 08-13-2013, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Ugh. My landlord sent the maintenance guy and supposedly an electrician to look at it while I was away, but it still says hot/neutral reversed. When I told him it was the same. He gave me a number, which turned out to be the maintenance guy's, who then proceeded to yell at me, demanding to know why I would care about it, telling me me there hasn't ever been a problem and there won't ever be, and also said that it was THEIR building, not mine, so I shouldn't be doing things like testing the electricity. And that I should just plug my equipment in differently.

Any advice for how to proceed now?
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post #28 of 32 Old 08-13-2013, 08:24 AM
 
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Find a new place to live. All they are going to do at this point, is make your life a living hell. Maint. guy will lose your requests, you most likely will start being blamed for stuff you never touched or did.

It is like a job that you can see is falling apart, or the management does not know thei head from a hole in the ground. You look for greener pastures.

There has to be someone looking for a renter for a house they cannot sell, or newer, better maintained buildings in your area.
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post #29 of 32 Old 08-13-2013, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
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post #30 of 32 Old 08-13-2013, 08:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lexlynx View Post

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/06/14/philadelphia-building-inspector-reportedly-blamed-self-for-deadly-accident-in/

So much for getting the local building inspector to help me...
That is an isolated incident. There are more than just one inspector in your area. Most likely the one related to the May incident was on the take anyways, and decided it was an easy out, to take his own life, then spend the rest of his life in prison, and living with the thought of him being responsible for something he had no control over.
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