I'm replacing an old/aged receptacle. Incoming hot wired to hot on receptacle. Neutral had been previously connected but snipped off and wire is loose in box (copper end more or less insulated). Incoming ground is wired to ground on receptacle and then jumpered into the neutral connector on the receptacle. It appears it was originally wired as I would have thought appropriately but then later altered. The original wiring is mid-70s vintage. There are no other conductors in the box so it's not in series with anything (at least visibly in the box).

I suspect this wiring has been in place for decades without issue but this feels like a hazard. Can't think why it has been altered in this way. My thought would be to pull this and wire new receptacle in traditional manner.

Any reason anybody can think of why I shouldn't proceed with traditional wiring on new receptacle?


1 Answer 1


No, but if you do make SURE the wiring is correct and the neutral is valid. Personally I'd trace the cable back to the previous device and ensure the integrity of the neutral.

I suspect someone may have done a serious and dangerous hack job wiring that receptacle because of a problem with the neutral.

  • Sounds like the neutral is not even hooked up and they're using a bootleg neutral.
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 0:05
  • I fully agree with Speedy. This definitely sounds like a hack job done when the original neutral wire was found to be non-functional. This really calls for investigation and running a new cable back as far as necessary to where the neutral can be restored to proper usage. Running power through the safety ground network is dangerous and could lead to overheating of the wiring since so often the ground wire is a smaller gauge wire that the hot/neutral pair in a cable.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 12:13
  • I agree too. You have no idea why the last guy hooked it up like that. I would hook it up conventionally, i.e. assuming bare and white wires are properly ground and neutral. You'll soon find out if it isn't, and then I'd troubleshoot that conventionally. You may have a neutral problem elsewhere. Unfortunately there's no easy fix to a bad neutral. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 15:47
  • What they said. The neutral is probably disconnected at the previous box. As they said, trace it back.
    – VWFeature
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 2:13

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