I am replacing some sockets with new sockets, that also contain USB charging receptacles. I have done this before. The question I have is with one of my outlets in my rec room (built in 2007, electrician did wiring originally).

Upon removal of one of the old grounded outlets, I noticed that the ground wire was connected to the ground screw AND the neutral screw. I thought this was odd. So I connected the new outlet the way I think it is supposed to be; two blacks to hot, two whites to neutral and one ground to ground. That resulted in that outlet and none of the downstream outlets working at all.

I reconnected the old outlet with the "proper" ground to see if that was the cause. Nope. It would not work at all (either outlet) unless the ground wire was connected to the neutral and the ground.

I am not sure if this is how it is supposed to be or why it is that way. I basically reinstalled the old receptacle how it was to avoid any problems but am not sure why it's like that. I also did install a new receptacle in the same room on another wall and it works perfectly. The ground was not wired to the neutral, only to the ground screw on that one.

  • Welcome to DIY.SE! Can you post photos of the wiring inside the box with the "grounded neutral" receptacle?
    – mmathis
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 17:24
  • Sorry. I have it all back together. Will do when I am back home. But to describe it, the end of the ground wire is around the ground screw on the receptacle, and then further down the ground wire is attached to the neutral screw. Further up from that is a wire not with two ground wires attached. So the two wires, go into a wire nut. Then one ground wire comes out of the tip of that wire nut and connects as I describe above. If that's not clear, I will get a pic tonight asap.
    – Pat Loftis
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 17:28
  • 2
    @EdBeal my guess is the "electrician" engineered a non-approved UNSAFE method of repairing a neutral opened by a drywall screw.
    – Tyson
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 18:17
  • 1
    You might want to try to back trace and see which outlet deviates from the standard and why...
    – ecco88
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 18:53
  • 2
    I agree with Tyson. The neutral for the circuit was probably damaged, and the electrician is using the grounding conductor as a neutral. This could be dangerous, and should be repaired properly.
    – Tester101
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Misusing ground as neutral is a code violation. It's the work of a hack electrician trying to get a job across the finish line, or other tradesman who severed a neutral by accident and hacked it so no one would notice.

I would search each receptacle box in that circuit for a reason for a neutral problem. Most wiring problems are at terminations. If you find none, I would find the next box back on the cable run (that is still hot), and disconnect the cable there. Whatever broke the neutral may have also nicked the hot.

If the electrician did this, then every connection in your house needs review. You know how to do receptacles!

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