Duplex outlet wiring question

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  #1  
Old 11-11-12, 10:58 AM
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Duplex outlet wiring question

Hopefully this is simple, but I couldn 't find an answer anywhere.

I was replacing an outlet (wife wants white vs. ivory to match the new paint. I've done this plenty of times. When I pulled the old outlet from the box to disconnect the back stabbed wires, I noticed the ground lug was connected to the neutral side of the receptacle. Specifically, a piece of white insulated wire was wirenut'd to the ground wire coming in (plastic box), a small stripped section of the same wire was looped around the ground lug, and the end was backstabbed into NEUTRAL. The neutral was wired normally.

I've never seen this done, and assume it that way for a reason. If it matters, it's on an outside wall in the upstairs master bedroom.

Can anyone explain why this might be, and whether I should wire the replacement the same way?

Thanks.



Iggy
 
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Old 11-11-12, 11:18 AM
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What you have is called a bootleg ground. Perhaps someone did this to fool a 3 light tester to show something as grounded when it isn't or to make the receptacle work when the neutral had been lost.

This is a dangerous condition that needs to be fixed.
 
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Old 11-11-12, 08:13 PM
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Fascinating, and thanks. It's certainly a lot easier to Google "bootleg ground" than " ground lug loops to neutral". I assume that since the bootleg is connected to the ground wire in the cable, this isn't the classic bootleg reason that a ground wasn't available. Thus I suspect it's more about your "lost the neutral" statement. Does that imply an open somewhere in the neutral circuit between the outlet and the panel?

Any recommendations on how to check that? Continuity between that and an upstream outlet's neutral?

Iggy
 
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Old 11-11-12, 08:48 PM
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Thus I suspect it's more about your "lost the neutral" statement. Does that imply an open somewhere in the neutral circuit between the outlet and the panel?
Yep.

Any recommendations on how to check that? Continuity between that and an upstream outlet's neutral?
I would just open the upstream receptacles one at a time and clean up the wiring. Splice the grounds together with a pigtail, do the same for the hots and the neutrals, connect each pigtail to an appropriate screw terminal, tighten all five terminal screws and move on. I would cut the power back on now and then to see if the problem had been fixed.

I wonder if somebody broke the end off the feed-out neutral in one of those boxes...
 
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