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  1. #1
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    Default neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    So, as I'm going through the basic lipstick on a pig flip and get grounded readings on an otherwise un-remodeled house I often get suspicous of what my very basic outlet tester is telling me. I pull outlet plates sometimes and every once in awhile find a jumper from the neutral to ground.

    So, how bad is it? Is it worse than bonding neutral and ground in a "submarine" panel? My understanding is the closer to the end user the bond is done the worse it is?

    Just curious what the masses think to be sure I'm giving it the just condemnation. I generally hit this one pretty hard since, at its best, it's extremely negligent. At its worst it's outright fraudulent.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Hit it hard, and hit it often!


  3. #3
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    That is called a bootleg ground and can create very dangerous conditions by putting voltage on the metal parts that should never carry voltage.

    This was either done to replace a missing neutral if the system is grounded or to fool a 3 light tester by making it look like there is a ground.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    I tell my clients that this is the outlet lying to them. It says it is grounded when it really is not.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  5. #5
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Putting the chassis of a grounded appliance at the same potential as the leads of the power cord should be a criminal offense.

    There is no legitimate reason for doing it, so you may be right about them doing it to fool an inspector. I suspect the real reason tho is somebody just doesn't have a clue and shouldn't be allowed to buy tools.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  6. #6
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Putting the chassis of a grounded appliance at the same potential as the leads of the power cord should be a criminal offense.

    There is no legitimate reason for doing it, so you may be right about them doing it to fool an inspector. I suspect the real reason tho is somebody just doesn't have a clue and shouldn't be allowed to buy tools.
    Unfortunately bootlegging grounds to pass HUD HQS inspections is a pretty common practice in subsidized rental units.

    Galen L. Beasley
    Inspections Supervisor
    Housing Authority of Kansas City MO

  7. #7
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    So, can anyone say this is more dangerous than bonding at a sub panel? Same?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    So, can anyone say this is more dangerous than bonding at a sub panel? Same?
    Well ... with a sub panel you are totally encased in a metal shell and separated from the water by that metal shell ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    So, can anyone say this is more dangerous than bonding at a sub panel? Same?
    I'll through my logic at it. With the ground and neutral tied together at the sub-panel there is a low voltage current induced on the ground conductor going to the service panel. Shocks or even tingles are not likely to be experienced. (Noise on radios, stereo's, etc. are likely) If the receptacle has a boot leg ground and the neutral opens down stream of the receptacle then the full 120 volts will be felt on anything connected to that neutral wire with the only voltage drops being the device plugged in and your body resistance. If both you and the device have low resistance you will get a pretty good shock.

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    If you've ever felt the tingling sensation from electricity as you're turning on the laundry tub faucet while leaning against a dryer that is plugged into a circuit with a bootlegged ground, it really doesn't matter where the bootleg occurs, does it?

    Fred Comb, ACI
    Mahtomedi, MN
    www.homeinspectionsofmn.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Comb View Post
    If you've ever felt the tingling sensation from electricity as you're turning on the laundry tub faucet while leaning against a dryer that is plugged into a circuit with a bootlegged ground, it really doesn't matter where the bootleg occurs, does it?
    Dryers are on a dedicated 240v circuit, how does it plugged into one that is bootlegged? If you got tingled there was something else wrong.

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    A bootleg ground will send some of the neutral current onto the metal casing of the dryer where it's free to follow any path back to the source. That would include through a human and back on a metal faucet.
    Remember, the reason it is "bootlegged" is because there is no ground wire for the current to travel on.

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    Remember, the reason it is "bootlegged" is because there is no ground wire for the current to travel on.
    Think about it, all the old dryer circuits actually use a sort of bootleg for the 120 volt part of the circuit. You are just using the ground to serve as both the neutral and ground. I guess this is why a 4 wire circuit is now required... tingle is not good.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  14. #14
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Think about it, all the old dryer circuits actually use a sort of bootleg for the 120 volt part of the circuit. You are just using the ground to serve as both the neutral and ground. I guess this is why a 4 wire circuit is now required... tingle is not good.
    Jim, the op question was referring to a 120v receptacle that has the ground pin tied to the neutral. Having the receptacle bootleged will not send voltage or current to anything not connected directly to that pin. With no ground wire on the ground pin the voltage/current goes no where.

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    If you have connected the neutral and ground together then a grounded metal object with a 3-wire cord will make the metallic shell of the object connected directly to the neutral. If you were to touch the metal object and something else grounded then some neutral current will flow through your body.
    Not disputing that. But you will have a very hard time getting that current (at a very low voltage) to the dryer frame, as was suggested in earlier post. My point is, a bootleg receptacle does not contaminate the rest of the system.

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    Not disputing that. But you will have a very hard time getting that current (at a very low voltage) to the dryer frame, as was suggested in earlier post. My point is, a bootleg receptacle does not contaminate the rest of the system.
    Depends what the system is.

    I frequently see older homes with multiple wiring systems including 2 conductor cable, metal conduit and even knob and tube. These various systems are frequently combined in some manner. It's not unusual to see metal conduit carrying both 240 and 120 to the laundry area in older homes. Stray voltage from a bootleg ground can still be found and felt at 240v dryers.

    Thankfully, bootlegs are becoming more and more rare.

    Fred Comb, ACI
    Mahtomedi, MN
    www.homeinspectionsofmn.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    A neutral and ground should be at the same potential. Electricity does take all paths available but favors the easiest. An appliance that uses the neutral for a ground should pose no shock hazard unless the neutral has problems.

    The same is true with the bootleg ground. As long as the neutral has no problems there isn't an issue. If by some chance the neutral is opened the exposed metal parts now have line voltage potential on them instead of ground potential.

    If the bootleg connection is on a circuit that has a ground wire on part of it (illegal extension of an ungrounded circuit) and the ground wire is hooked up, an open neutral will put line potential on everything on the circuit that has the ground hooked up.

    Putting a bonding screw in a non service (sub) panel doesn't create a hazard in the same way a bootleg ground does. What it does do is provide multiple paths for the neutral by putting current on the ground wire that isn't supposed to carry anything but fault current. In this event, someone working on a circuit with an open neutral could get shocked if they for some reason needed to open the ground pigtail.

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    So, as I'm going through the basic lipstick on a pig flip and get grounded readings on an otherwise un-remodeled house I often get suspicous of what my very basic outlet tester is telling me. I pull outlet plates sometimes and every once in awhile find a jumper from the neutral to ground.

    So, how bad is it? Is it worse than bonding neutral and ground in a "submarine" panel? My understanding is the closer to the end user the bond is done the worse it is?

    Just curious what the masses think to be sure I'm giving it the just condemnation. I generally hit this one pretty hard since, at its best, it's extremely negligent. At its worst it's outright fraudulent.
    Is this common in older homes? Or, have you seen this in new construction holmes?


  19. #19
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    David, all newer wiring should contain a means to properly ground the circuit. The bootleg is done on ungrounded circuits to make it look like there is a ground to a 3 light tester.

    It can also be done where the neutral has become lost on a grounded system. In that case the ground acts as a neutral to allow the current to return to the panel.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    I'm in the learning proccess here. What indicators made you take the face plate off to check?


  21. #21
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by David Watson View Post
    I'm in the learning proccess here. What indicators made you take the face plate off to check?
    Old house that has ungrounded wiring in the panel, but has grounded type outlets.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Thank you for the lesson Rick!!

    Is there a book I can reference to on Residential Construction wiring? That is in laymens trems. Where it takes me from the overhead/lateral service to the panel and then branch circuits?

    Once again.....Thank You!!


  23. #23
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by David Watson View Post
    Thank you for the lesson Rick!!

    Is there a book I can reference to on Residential Construction wiring? That is in laymens trems. Where it takes me from the overhead/lateral service to the panel and then branch circuits?

    Once again.....Thank You!!
    Forgive the shameless plug, but since you asked, our new book Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings, 2013 edition goes to the printer on Monday. It is not one of our checklist flip-charts. It is a large (400 page) text that serves as a guide for electrical inspections, a reference guide to relevant code sections, and a history of selected issues in the NEC. It was written with questions like yours in mind. We are offering it at a discounted price of 49.95 with free shipping for advance purchases. After this week, the price will be 59.95 plus shipping.

    Douglas Hansen
    www.codecheck.com


  24. #24
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas Hansen View Post
    Forgive the shameless plug, but since you asked, our new book Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings, 2013 edition goes to the printer on Monday. It is not one of our checklist flip-charts. It is a large (400 page) text that serves as a guide for electrical inspections, a reference guide to relevant code sections, and a history of selected issues in the NEC. It was written with questions like yours in mind. We are offering it at a discounted price of 49.95 with free shipping for advance purchases. After this week, the price will be 59.95 plus shipping.

    Douglas Hansen
    www.codecheck.com
    Doug's original book Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings is the most comprehensive and easy to understand text on electrical I have ever read and am looking forward to the new and expanded 2013 version. I encourage every inspector to buy and read it. Fortunately this 2013 edition will be much easier to find.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas Hansen View Post
    Forgive the shameless plug, but since you asked, our new book Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings, 2013 edition goes to the printer on Monday. It is not one of our checklist flip-charts. It is a large (400 page) text that serves as a guide for electrical inspections, a reference guide to relevant code sections, and a history of selected issues in the NEC. It was written with questions like yours in mind. We are offering it at a discounted price of 49.95 with free shipping for advance purchases. After this week, the price will be 59.95 plus shipping.

    Douglas Hansen
    www.codecheck.com
    Doug's original book Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings is the most comprehensive and easy to understand text on electrical I have ever read and am looking forward to the new and expanded 2013 version. I encourage every inspector to buy and read it. Fortunately this 2013 edition will be much easier to find.

    Don Martin, ACI
    Preferred Home Inspections

  25. #25
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas Hansen View Post
    Forgive the shameless plug, but since you asked, our new book Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings, 2013 edition goes to the printer on Monday. It is not one of our checklist flip-charts. It is a large (400 page) text that serves as a guide for electrical inspections, a reference guide to relevant code sections, and a history of selected issues in the NEC. It was written with questions like yours in mind. We are offering it at a discounted price of 49.95 with free shipping for advance purchases. After this week, the price will be 59.95 plus shipping.

    Douglas Hansen
    www.codecheck.com

    Bump...
    At $59.95 plus shipping, this book will be worth every penny! Not to mention Codecheck which is a permanent passenger in my car. If home inspectors have only one book in their car, this would be it!

    Fred Comb, ACI
    Mahtomedi, MN
    www.homeinspectionsofmn.com

  26. #26
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    Thanks for the kind words Fred
    Douglas Hansen
    www.codecheck.com
    DH_EIED_Proof.JPG


  27. #27
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    Default Re: neutral jumped to ground @ outlet

    X2 on the Codecheck series.... I have about a 5 year old set and need to update soon but still grab them a few times a week just to be sure I'm remembering things correctly. Of course, they aren't as comprehensive as the entire code book but with how durable and small they are it's a "must carry".


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