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Old 12-21-2008, 04:49 PM   #1
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Can't find outdoor GFI reset


OK, this one is driving me crazy. My Christmas lights stopped working the other day after a rain. The outdoor outlet they are plugged into stopped working along with several others on that side of the house (the outlet itself did not get wet). The outlet has a label that says "GFI protected". I can not for the life of me find the switch to reset those outlets. I have tried resetting all the GFIs in the house and garage. I also tried resetting the breaker which is labeled "Garage/Outdoor GFI" (as well as turning all the other breakers off then back on just in case). I have spent hours looking for a GFI outlet that I may have missed (especially in the garage) and am convinced I have not missed one. I have also tested the outlets with a voltage tester to make sure it is the outlet and not the Christmas lights. On one side of the house, the outdoor recepticles work fine and the other side they don't work at all. If anyone has any suggestions, I would be very greatful.

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Old 12-21-2008, 05:06 PM   #2
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Can't find outdoor GFI reset


GFIs can fail without indication. If both neutral continuity and hot voltage are gone it's probably the GFI. If only one is gone it can still be the GFI.

Picking the best candidate, and with the GFI line side disconnected, check for no voltage present and then check for continuity between both line and load terminals, on both sides.


Last edited by Yoyizit; 12-21-2008 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 12-21-2008, 06:03 PM   #3
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Can't find outdoor GFI reset


Do you have power at all of the GFCI's you have checked?
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Old 12-21-2008, 09:01 PM   #4
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Can't find outdoor GFI reset


I do have power at all of the GFIs in the house and garage. They all seem to be working fine. I've put the voltage tester in and it lights up and when I hit the test button it goes out. Unfortunately I don't know how to check for continuity between line and load terminals (to be honest, I don't know the difference). I'm relatively handy, but I'm not all that versed with electical. Do I need more than a voltage tester?
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Old 12-22-2008, 06:34 AM   #5
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Can't find outdoor GFI reset


Are you sure you checked ALL the gfi's?? I once had a customer with a 3rd floor bathroom out, finally found the culprit GFI in the basement utility room. Two seconds to fix the problem, almost an hour to find the GFI.

But you may have to physically measure the load side of each GFI to determine if one is the problem. Measure hot to gnd, and hot to N.
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Old 12-22-2008, 06:42 AM   #6
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Can't find outdoor GFI reset


Try using an incandescent lamp to test the receptacles. It is possible that the voltage you are detecting is a "phantom" voltage, which would result from capacitive coupling, and not a real connection.

That said, I am not sure if the GFCI would reset under those conditions. I know they won't reset without power, but they may not be able to tell the difference between true voltage and phantom voltage.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:15 AM   #7
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Go through your house again, especially bathrooms, if you haven't found the GFCI unit in question. Test receptacles as you go using an ordinary incandescent light to see if there are any more dead ones.

Beyond this point it is a "simple" "some receptacles are dead" issue; you'll need to troubleshoot by opening up outlet boxes and doing voltage testing or using an RF tone generator circuit tracer to find which daisy chain your dead receptacles are on.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-22-2008 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:21 AM   #8
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Another place to check is if you have a recepticle underneith your circuit breaker box that might be a gfci. Or any other outlets in your basement.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:54 AM   #9
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It's probably behind something. Look in your attic/basement too. Keep looking for it before you do anything else.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:07 PM   #10
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Where is the GFCI located for the outdoor receptacles that do work? Maybe that will give you an idea where to look for the one that is tripped. The breaker is not a GFCI breaker is it?
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:59 PM   #11
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on the problem socket you need to pull it out of the GFI monting box and test the hot wire to ground or the wired neutral right there..if you don't see a meter reading as on the working ones start tracing inside where it penetrates that wall
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:09 PM   #12
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I found it!!!! Thank you all for your help and advice. I spent at least 2 hours looking over the past couple days and thought there was no way I missed anything. I even cleaned out the garage to make sure it wasn't hidden somewhere. It turned out to be in a second garage/storage area that I had torn apart previously. The previous owner had built a shelf unit that covered the GFI almost completely. Thank goodness.... I was about to go crazy! Thanks again, everyone.
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Old 12-23-2008, 08:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riqs View Post
I found it!!!! Thank you all for your help and advice. I spent at least 2 hours looking over the past couple days and thought there was no way I missed anything. I even cleaned out the garage to make sure it wasn't hidden somewhere. It turned out to be in a second garage/storage area that I had torn apart previously. The previous owner had built a shelf unit that covered the GFI almost completely. Thank goodness.... I was about to go crazy! Thanks again, everyone.
HA! same thing happened to me. A neighbor was complaining that all of the outlets in his garage weren't working.... he had plugged everything in with extension cords to the outlets that were powering his garage door openers! I loooked and looked, and finally found a GFCI behind a shelf on the wall of his garage. reset, and "POOF!" it all worked.
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Old 12-23-2008, 10:13 AM   #14
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Isn't it against the NEC to hide GFIs?
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:22 PM   #15
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Most of the time they get hidden by the home owner after they are inspected and forgotten about.

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