Sockets & their functioning

The author of this blog is Dinesh, a trained and certified home inspector working at HomeInspeKtor. You can get in touch with him here.

Sockets are the outlets that we use in our day-to-day life to run our home appliances such as TV, fridge, mixer, microwave etc. The understanding that a common person may have is that either the socket is powered or non-powered. Even though a socket may be powered but it may be with faulty earthing or line-neutral reversal or neutral faulty and so on which can only be identified using devices, and one such device used is AC line fault detector.

Home inspection electrical check
3 Pin Socket

3 Pin Socket

In the above 3-pin socket that we typically use in our homes, the top opening is called the Earthing point, right bottom opening is called a Line or Live point and the left bottom opening is called a Neutral point. This the standard design for all ranges of the sockets (light or power loads).

Home inspection electrical check
AC Line Fault Detector

AC Line Fault Detector

This device helps in finding whether the socket is working fine or if there are any issues that a user need to be aware of before getting it rectified by certified electricians or electrical service provider. When you insert this device in the socket to be tested, it indicates the status of the socket via three light indicators i.e., red, amber and green lights as shown in the picture:

  • If the socket is properly functioning then the red and green light glows giving an assurance that everything is fine in the socket (as indicated in the 1st row).

  • If a given socket has faulty earthing then only the red light glows (as indicated in 2nd row). This condition needs to addressed on priority, since there are chances of getting an electric shock if humans comes in touch with metal body appliance used in such sockets
  • If only the green light is glowing then it means the neutral wire is not connected and hence the neutral line is faulty (as indicated in 3rd row).
  • If the red & amber lights glow then it indicates a Line-Neutral reversal condition wherein the line and neutral wires are connected in the reverse order (as indicated in 4th row). In general, it may not hamper the socket operation but if there is a glitch in the power supply from the electricity board, the chances of appliances going for a toss are more in such a situation!
  • If none of the lights are glowing then the particular socket under check may not be powered at all (as indicated in the last row).

Hope this post threw some light on what a socket is and how it can be tested. Never forget to call a trained electrician or an electrical inspector to be on the safer side when you suspect a socket to be faulty.

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