Bootleg Ground

Here’s an academic question. I know there are better ways (GFCI, etc) but is a bootleg ground safer than no ground at all. Why, why not.

The grounded conductor is a current carrying conductor. If you connect the grounding conductor to it, it can energize anything that is or can be connected to the grounding conductor.


So why is it done? Not just to fool home inspectors I hope.:wink:

Probably just not knowing any better but I’m sure fooling HI’s has been thought of.

Bad “trick”.
It can really trick you into killing yourself. Think about this.
What happens when you have a polarity reversal up stream and someone hooks up a bootleg ground?
You hooked the white to the ground, polarity is reversed, what voltage did you just put on the case of that fridge? Hope you don’t touch the stove or sink while you have the fridge handle in your hand.
That bad part is your 3 light tester will say everything is fine.

Repair or replace immediatly.
Life is to short do it once and do it right.
Roy Cooke sr

Greg, don’t forget about the upstream open neutral situation which will cause voltage to rise on the neutral thru the connected load(s), also energizing any 3 prong appliance cabinets.

I thought a bootleg ground was an added grounding conductor rather than a ground**ed **conductor.

Or gounding the receptacle to a metal box, isn’t that a bootleg ground?

What about adding a third grounding conductor that runs back to a grounding bus bar? That’s actually a true ground isn’t it?

If your electrical panel is grounded to plumbing, then couldn’t you attatch a separate ground wire from an outlet straight to the plumbing.

Would this not give the same affect?



You are not supposed to ground electrical systems using plumbing. You bond the plumbing so that it does not become energized, but you don’t use plumbing as a “ground rod.” So, no, you should not run a wire from the ground screw of a receptacle to any copper plumbing piping.

Depends on where you live and the jurisdiction. In Chicago that is very common… Cold water pipes are “GEC’s”…Yep check with the local jurisdiction.
One near by suburb does not use grounding rods!!:shock:

Paul A. has posted a great “grounding” article . Earth ground around the world and who uses what system… Read that and then pull your hair out…:shock:

The idea of using a cold water pipe dates back to the days before plastic pipe when a cold water pipe was soldered copper or threaded steel, all the way back to the main on the street. These days it would be rare to have a solid metal pipe without some kind of water filter, softener or simply a section of plastic pipe. It is just not a relaible ground these days.

So if you were 100% sure you were conductive material all the way to the main service line, which happens to be copper, would the method of grounding a single receptacle to the plumbing be considered ok?
As long as your jurisdiction says it’s ok to ground the panel the same.?

I guess you are not listening NO go back to source of supply .
I think you know just about enough about electricity to get into trouble.
You should hire an electrician to do the job correctly

Roy Cooke Sr

OK…we will touch on this BUT then should leave it alone…thehehe…

NEC Art 250.130©

**© Nongrounding Receptacle Replacement or Branch
Circuit Extensions. **The equipment grounding conductor
of a grounding-type receptacle or a branch-circuit extension
shall be permitted to be connected to any of the following:

(1) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode system
as described in 250.50

(2) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode conductor

(3) The equipment grounding terminal bar within the enclosure
where the branch circuit for the receptacle or
branch circuit originates

(4) For grounded systems, the grounded service conductor
within the service equipment enclosure

(5) For ungrounded systems, the grounding terminal bar
within the service equipment enclosure
FPN: See 406.3(D) for the use of a ground-fault circuitinterrupting
type of receptacle.

As Greg to correctly stated, it is nearly impossible these days to ensure the water pipe connection is a VALID connection point due to the nature of non-metalics being cheaper and well…he and roy do a much better job of explaining that…BUT…the NEC is very clear on how to obtaining the EG connection on replacements to nongrounding and branch circuit extentions.

Thanks for the positive reinforcement, Roy.

Never installed receptacles this way, and never planned to.
I’ve seen this done…not professionally, of course.
Just trying to stir up discussion.

I am sure Roy means no harm CC…it does concern us “electricians” when people start talking about running a wire here and their to achieve a “grounded” receptacle and so on…but I think the NEC is rather clear on this one…atleast in my eyes anyway…:slight_smile:

Congratulations you got me well .
I had a guy once trying to do some thing silly and felt this could be the same thing again .
Sorry if I came on strong but there are lots of people who should just stay away .
Thanks for the chuckle .
Roy Cooke Sr

Oh Roy…you crazy Canadians…:slight_smile: