When I connect a device to one specific plug socket, I get a current in the device body. When I connect the device to any other plug in my house, then the device is normal, i.e no current in the device body.

To rule out device fault, I connected different appliances to the suspected faulty plug. All the appliances got a current in their body, but were normal with the other plug points in the house.

I renewed the socket with a new one to rule out socket fault, but the problem persists.

What could be causing this, and how do I fix it?

  • 4
    Have you tested with an outlet tester. And have you checked for voltage between that outlet's ground and a known good ground? First guess is a bootleg ground that was mistakenly wired to the hot. – BMitch Jul 2 '15 at 4:15
  • I have seen this where someone put a grounded outlet in metal box without a ground, and the hot wire had abraded enough to short to the box. – Brad Gilbert Jul 2 '15 at 15:16

I just had a similar issue. Chances are a wire in the outlet is shorting another wire. You probably can't see it in that outlet because the short is from another outlet. Ie. Where the outlet is fed from. With a multimeter check the outlet and you will likely get strange voltages or as you said full line voltage on the ground. Check the voltage on the steel electrical box itself, it should be zero but it sounds like that will have power which is not good. Now go to the next outlet in the chain / circuit and check the voltages again. Keep going to each outlet in the circuit until you find the issue. To find out which outlets are part of the circuit, turn of the circuit breaker and check power throughout the house. Alternatively you can guess when you remove the outlet and look where the wire is going behind the drywall.


The combination of a "bootleg ground" and reverse outlet polarity can cause this, as well as a hot-to-floating-"ground" short. The two can be distinguished using a non-contact detector and an outlet tester. The outlet tester will show a hot-to-floating-"ground" short with a normal neutral as an open ground wire (as there will be no potential across that light); however, if it reads normal, you aren't home free yet -- reverse polarity bootleg grounds will read normal on an outlet tester or any at-the-outlet voltage test, because there is no true ground reference present. A voltmeter check from the suspect "ground" to a known good grounding connection will read mains, though, and a non-contact detector will also alarm when brought near the suspect outlet in that case because the grounding strap will be live.

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