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    justpici's Avatar
    justpici Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Nov 24, 2005, 02:16 PM
    Outdoor outlet quit. Reset where??
    Stupid question: Where would the circuit board or switch be for outdoor outlets? We have one outlet in front and one in back and neither one are working. They're both GFCI with no reset/test buttons. The only GFCI outlets we have inside the home is in the kitchen and we've reset it and nothing has happened. The reset/test button was not sticking out, we just thought it might be connected somehow. The main circuit board, in the garage, does not have a listing for outdoor outlets.

    We've plugged in our Christmas lights and they've been working for a few weeks, until last night - they went out (we had a light rain), and now we're not getting any electricity from the outlet. We figured it may have "quit" due to the rain and the outdoor plugs.

    Any suggestions? We just moved into this house, so we're still learning where everything is...

    Thanks for not thinking of me as an idiot.
    labman's Avatar
    labman Posts: 10,580, Reputation: 551
    Uber Member

    Nov 24, 2005, 03:34 PM
    The true idiot is whoever installed the outlets, or worse yet, paid somebody else to, and failed to see to it that the breakers were labeled. Besides the fact that they should be, how do you know they are GFCI? Are they labeled? If so, there is a reset somewhere. It could be a GFCI outlet feeding them. Doesn't sound like it is a GFCI breaker. Might look around for a sub panel in a dark corner.

    The outlets SHOULD be GFCI, and if it was the rain, the reset SHOULD have kicked out. I would go to the breaker box and start flipping breakers. Carefully note what each one shuts off and label it. Since it wasn't done already, you may as well do it now and save more such hassles. If you find one that doesn't seem to do much, turn it all the way to off, and then all the way to on. Sometimes a breaker will trip and still look like it didn't. Pushing it to on may not reset it unless you turn it all the way to off and then back on.

    If that doesn't restore power, maybe try to trace the wires back to the box through the basement, crawl space, or attic. You are allowed to hide wires, but not connections. A voltage detector would be a big help sorting out dead and live wires.

    I came across the niftiest gadget for trouble shooting, a voltage detector. They work through the insulation of wires. There are several brands. I have a GB Instruments GVD-505A, less than $15 at Home Depot. Touch it to a hot wire, and the end glows red. Find the doodad that lights it on one side, and not the other, and you have the culprit.
    tkrussell's Avatar
    tkrussell Posts: 9,659, Reputation: 725
    Uber Member

    Nov 25, 2005, 06:30 AM
    To add to Labman's answer, sure sounds as if a GFI device tripped. Besides the kitchen, look in the bathrooms, basement, garage, and crawlspaces for a GFI receptacle to reset. There is also a chance that the GFI that did trip is defective.

    There may be a GFI outlet at the panel, if the home is fairly new is one required there.

    Since you just moved in, sounds like a good time to take a tour of all your mechanical systems and take note while you are looking for your problem with your outdoor outlet. This is something most people do not do until something is not working.

    Do you and others in the home know where the all electric circuit breakers are, water main, gas main, fuel systems, heating systems, timeclocks, smoke detectors ( there are smoke detectors? And all are tested and have fresh batteries?Also include any CO detectors) Do all water valves actually work? Can all valves be closed and opened with ease?

    By the way, be sure to unplug the xmas lights until the power is restored, you may be finding the GFI to reset,but if the lights are still plugged in will cause it to trip and you may not realize this.

    Hope this helps some. Let us know what you find.
    justpici's Avatar
    justpici Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Nov 25, 2005, 06:51 AM
    Reset Found!
    Thanks for the replies - this has been eating at us - we've been obsessed over this (like the episode of "Friends" where Monica is trying to figure out what a light switch does). We went through every inch inside this house, looking for another GFCI outlet with a reset button. There was another GFCI outlet, in the garage, not close to the breakers, but slightly hidden by a box that does something, but we're not sure what. We don't think it's the garage door opener, but who knows... (It has no label, of course, no manual, and a couple of green lights on it) You're right, we need to look for all of the items mentioned in your post (water main, gas main, etc) And don't even talk to me about the CO detectors - nightmare! We're in the process of changing all of the batteries and going through a series of tests for each unit. The previous owners left us with nothing regarding the home and where certain things are, so, we're learning as we go. Any help in telling us where things might be located, to help us with our knowledge, will be helpful (ie. Water main, gas main, etc in a generalized location) This is our second home, we built our first and new where everything was, and kept things organized. We're slowly seeing a few faults with this home builder - we're keeping notes so if we move again, we'll know what else to look for.

    Thanks for the response, from both of you! We feel a little more confident! Again, any other knowledgeable insights you'd like to share is welcome.

    Borewyrm's Avatar
    Borewyrm Posts: 65, Reputation: 2
    Junior Member

    Nov 28, 2005, 07:20 PM
    Once you solve this mystery I have one suggestion. Install a codekeeper cover on the outside outlet. For about ten dollars your outlet will be weatherproof even while leaving cords plugged in. I also recommend actual codekeeper coveras opposed to other brands as they are a bit more durable. Ask for it at home depot or any hardware store.
    sc0tt_ta's Avatar
    sc0tt_ta Posts: 2, Reputation: 2
    New Member

    Dec 13, 2005, 12:35 PM
    Re: Outdoor outlet quit. Reset where??
    I've got the same problem, almost.

    Our master bathroom has 2 non-resetable CFGI that are dead. After installing Xmas lights on the outside, I realized the external outlet is also dead. I suspected the same CFGI circuit.

    I've reset and labeled all the circuit breakers and still have these dead outlets. I know that if I replace these CFGI with resetable outlets, I will still have this problem until I find the hidden outlet. Still, I've searched high and low for this other CFGI. I am an a stumped and an Electrical Engineer, no less. Go figure!


    Thanks for the advice... it gives me hope that I will eventually find it without tearing the walls apart to trace the wire. I live in AZ where they put the house on a cement slab, (no crawl space or basement). :mad:
    labman's Avatar
    labman Posts: 10,580, Reputation: 551
    Uber Member

    Dec 13, 2005, 02:41 PM
    If you scroll up to my original post, you can see where I suggest a voltage detector. You can actually trace hot NM wires through the drywall with one. You could start at the breaker box and follow likely cables maybe finding an illegal hidden box.
    sc0tt_ta's Avatar
    sc0tt_ta Posts: 2, Reputation: 2
    New Member

    Dec 13, 2005, 05:49 PM
    I have a small one but can't see the wires to use it. It's a cheapy I picked up and haven't had much use for it.

    Anyway, the message stream reminded me that there was an outlet in the garage. I had covered shelves and drawers installed, covering the plug. Removing one of the drawers revealed the hidden CFGI push-button type outlet. I didn't realize this went to so many outlets (again, I discovered yet another exterior outlet that didn't work).

    I had a work crew remodel my swimming pool and they must have cause the fault. They didn't say anything so I didn't relate the two.

    Man, I am so thrilled to solve this problem. It was eating me away.

    Thanks again!
    DBonino1's Avatar
    DBonino1 Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 17, 2007, 01:10 PM
    I just had the similar issue, and after checking all the circuits, all the GFIs around the house, I found one in the garage near the circuit breaker that was red. I reset that one and the outdoor GFI was able to be reset, my computer is now working again.

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