Why is a ground wire of this outlet wrapped around the bare portion of a neutral wire at this outlet? This ground wire is a pigtail that is joined with the two other ground wires in the box.

This outlet is controlled by a switch. There are additional outlets after this one. I have checked several other outlets in the house and do not see this repeated on those.

I am going to replace the outlet. Should I unwrap this ground wire? Outlet Picture

  • 7
    ...and you obviously have aluminum branch wiring. So be sure to get CO/ALR rated receptacles for a replacement, and use a torque driver to tighten the screws. Which you should also do for copper wires, as it turns out. But you don't need CO/ALR rated receptacles for copper wires, and you do for aluminum wires.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 17:17
  • 3
    The neutral wire definitely seems to be broken. You can see thermal damage to the insulation from the inevitable arcing that is happening through that terrible connection. Copper would do exactly the same, by the way. Nothing wrong with aluminum (the older alloy is a bit brittle) but you must respect it, by using properly aluminum-rated terminals, e.g. CO-ALR rated receptacles, or pigtailing with Alumiconns. And in ALL connections which specify a torque, use a torque driver. Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 18:37

1 Answer 1


The neutral wire is broken somewhere and that is a bad cheap lazy hack to have that outlet work.

If you remove the ground from that wire and that outlet keeps working and everything else on that circuit keeps working, then someone just wrapped that ground around for nothing. Ground and neutral should only connect in the main panel and nowhere else.

Turn off the breaker for that circuit before playing with the wires.

Since you seem to have aluminum wires invest in a torque screwdriver and make sure all connections are tighten to specific torque.

  • 13
    The correct way to fix the broken neutral wire is to replace the cable. That may mean doing some damage to walls in order to gain access. This situation is sufficiently dangerous that you should fix it properly. If your DIY skills are not up to running new cables in walls, you should have this done professionally, it's not a "wait for later" repair.
    – jay613
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 18:17
  • @Jay613 that depends. If the wire break in the neutral can be found and repaired, one might still save the day. Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 18:39
  • 9
    This circuit should no longer be used until this is fixed... the neutral-ground bypass is energizing ground whenever this outlet is being used, and that's going to kill someone.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 1:36
  • @jay613 I'd probably try to find all the junctions and check those before ripping the walls up. The problem could be on a different run of cable.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 14:39
  • 1
    @JimmyJames and Harper I wrote "replace cable" rather than "try hard to find a way to fix it, then replace it" because I assumed the person who did this botch would have repaired it if possible. Of course, that's a dumb (kind? generous? nah) assumption. You're both right to point it out: It may be possible to find and fix the problem somewhere without breaking walls open. Just turn the breaker off and stop using this circuit til you fix it.
    – jay613
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 14:49

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