Bootleg Ground or False Ground

 False Ground

A false ground or boot leg grounding involves using a jumper wire to connect the neutral terminal (lug) and the ground terminal (lug) on a receptacle. This is done to trick the basic hand held testers most inspectors use to check for open grounds.  This is a common trick used by do-it-yourselfers and some handy men.  The reason it is done is to disguise an ungrounded two wire electrical circuit and make it appear to be a legitimate grounded circuit.

The issue is the receptacle now appears to be correctly grounded and it is not.  An unsuspecting home owner that plugs in a power tool, kitchen appliance or any other electrical device with a three prong plug is now exposed to the possibility of a deadly electrical shock.  The third wire that would normally protect the unsuspecting user is now part of the electrical circuit and a short may not be detected until the user is shocked.  A false ground is a significant safety issue.

A false ground is dangerous

Using jumpers does not provide a ground

The proper repair for existing two wire ungrounded circuits is;

  1. Use a two prong receptacle
  2. Use a three prong receptacle protected by a GFCI receptacle Link
  3. Use a three prong receptacle protected by a GFCI breaker in the circuit breaker panel Link
  4. Replace with a grounded three wire cable

Remember ungrounded GFCI protected receptacles are required to be marked as such.

All electrical repairs should be made by a qualified electrician.