Bootleg ground at wall outlet. You have to be a skeptic to find these.

Home Inspector with Clayton Inspection Service, Inc.

Found this on today's inspection. An older house that had 2 prong outlets in most of the house, with several new 3 prong's installed.

Someone used a jumper wire to go between the neutral and the ground lug on the outlet. This creates a potentially dangerous condition. It could have been done out of ignorance, or maybe to try to fool a home inspector, don't know. I just know that some inspectors would have plugged in their tester, seen a grounded outlet and moved on. 

Yep, I'm good, if I do say so myself.

Comments (29)

Dinah Lee Griffey
Windermere Peninsula Properties - Allyn, WA
Managing Broker Windermere Peninsula Properties

Great info. I have to trust the inspector because there is a lot that can be missed-Dinah Lee

May 09, 2009 06:01 AM
John Mulkey - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

Good work Jack. Many inspectors would just assume everything to be okay if the tester indicated it was. Great that you pulled off the plate to see what was there. I assume the box isn't grounded and that it's a 2-wire system.

May 09, 2009 07:25 AM
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN

Yep, box not grounded and it is a 2 wire system. 

May 09, 2009 08:09 AM
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Jack, it is extremely important to be thorough and it looks like you were.

May 10, 2009 01:15 PM
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

Well done.  I'm impressed.

May 10, 2009 03:18 PM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jack---good catch.  Sometimes it is important when you find an outlet that tests as grounded to know whether you need to say "thats cool" or need to ask "umph---why?"

May 11, 2009 06:38 AM
Vince Santos
StepByStep Home Services LC - Canton, MI
Southeast Michigan Home Inspector

Just plug in a SureTest circuit analyzer to find bootleg ground/false grounds.

May 11, 2009 12:35 PM
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN


Not all SureTest's check for bootleg grounds.

Not everyone owns that model of SureTest.

May 11, 2009 03:34 PM
Robert Dirienzo
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN


Way to go!  How did you know to pull the outlet to look for this?  Did you have a bunch of ungrounded 3 prong outlets, but this one showed a ground?

Thank You,

Richard Acree


Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and contributing members of the Active Rain Real Estate network, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at, or call 615-376-2753. 

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Sep 26, 2009 01:59 PM
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN


The house was older and had some 2 prong outlets, so I knew there were some un-grounded outlets in the house. When I found a grounded one, I suspected a bootleg, so I pulled the cover plate off and took a look. I removed the outlet to take the photo.

 I do use a Suretest, but don't always trust it when it says OK.


Sep 26, 2009 03:45 PM
Paul Duffau
Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington - Asotin, WA
Caring for People, Educating about Homes

I had one of those today - a GFCI breaker that acted ungrounded when I tested it in the kitchen (usually the first spot I test indoors).  went "hmmmm" and looked a little closer.  Not willing to believe willful deception when ignorance is still an option. 

And yes, you're good!


Nov 11, 2009 04:43 PM