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Neutral strapped to ground -- Why?

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Topic by Gerald Jensen posted 01-05-2014 04:27 AM 2910 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gerald Jensen

7 posts in 2959 days

01-05-2014 04:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question neutral to ground

My daughter found a busted outlet in her bedroom, so I volunteered to replace it for her. The house was built in the early 60’s, so there are no grounded citcuits (2 – wire 15 amp cirtcuits).

The broken outlet was designed for more contemporary circuits (hot, neutral, and ground), so it was evidently a retro-fit.

When I pulled the busted receptacle out of the box, I noticed that the neutral side was strapped to the ground lug with a short piece of 14 gauge copper.

I have never run into this before … is this copasetic or is this a potential shock/fire hazard?

-- -- Binford Tools: REAL MEN don't need instructions.



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KS_Sparky

4 posts in 1718 days

01-06-2014 01:48 PM

Per NEC, you can replace with an ungrounded receptacle (just two slots, which would give you no equipment ground protection) or a GFCI receptacle (which would still have no equipment ground, but would trip in case of a fault.) The GFCI is the much safer option, but a few dollars more expensive. If it was my house, I would re-terminate all devices. I would also replace the first receptacle for each circuit with a GFCI. The feed from the panel goes on the line side of the GFCI and the downstream receptacles on the load side. Then they would all be protected and safe.

The shared conductor for neutral and equipment ground, is very common and allowed for ranges and clothes dryers. So, it is not a fire hazard, but it does present some scenarios for shock hazards. Theoretically, every separately derived service, like your house, should have only ONE point where the Grounded (neutral) and Equipment Ground are bonded.

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KS_Sparky

4 posts in 1718 days

01-06-2014 05:54 PM

As for why, lets look at what the equipment ground does. Where used, the equipment ground is designed to provide a safe return path in the event that the current in the appliance strays from its intended path. By tying the ground screw to the neutral, the thought was that if there were stray currents they would travel through the equipment ground in the cord, and then safely return via the neutral conductor to the supply. Again, chances are nothing bad would ever happen…but that doesn’t make it right.

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Gerald Jensen

7 posts in 2959 days

01-06-2014 07:00 PM

KS_Sparky—Thanks for the info … it confirms my suspicions. I worked for an electrical contractor back in the 60’s (my license expired many years ago), but only did new work … old work was always handled by other guys in his crew.

Her house actually needs a complete re-wire. It is wired with cloth-insulated wire that is over 50 years old and several of the old two-slot receptacles have been replaced with more contemporary ones … I imagine they have all been jerry-rigged the same way.

Re-terminating would be cheaper, but would still require a lot of time in the attic crawling around in insulation and Lord knows what else. If it was just one or two locations, I would do it for her but I think this is a job for a licensed electrician that is a lot younger than I am!

-- -- Binford Tools: REAL MEN don't need instructions.

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KS_Sparky

4 posts in 1718 days

01-06-2014 10:50 PM

Sometimes I’m glad I am by far mostly commercial…no attic work! Hours on a bucket making up receptacles isn’t fun, either, and I’m only 30!

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jose56

7 posts in 243 days

02-02-2018 09:59 PM

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