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megan81 07-01-2008 11:03 AM

Exterior GFI will not reset
You'll have to excuse the ignorance of a first time homeowner ... I am needing some guidance on an Exterior outlet I am having problems with. Here's the background info ... my home was built about a year and a half ago. I just moved in and the inspector noted that none of the exterior outlets (there are three total) are working and the GFI on one of them will not reset.

My first instinct is to install a new GFI outlet in place of the one that won't reset, but I'm not sure if I'm over-simplifying things. Let me know if I'm headed in the right direction or any other pointers you can give me ...

Megan :wink:

jbfan 07-01-2008 11:23 AM

Call the builder and let him fix it. If you touch it, he may try to back out of any warranty

megan81 07-01-2008 11:52 AM

Unfortunately, the house is no longer under warranty with the builder. It was under a one year warranty, which expired before I purchased the home.

javan 07-01-2008 12:15 PM

Check the main panel and see if that breaker is also tripped.

Termite 07-01-2008 12:50 PM

GFCI devices aren't exactly military grade hardware, and they go bad on a regular basis. As an inspector, I bet 1 in 75 brand new GFCI's that I test on new construction won't reset. They replace the device with a new one and everything is fine (in most cases).

Check your breaker first and see if it is on. If it still doesn't reset, kill the breaker and replace the GFCI.

There could be something else wrong, but the aforementioned things are the best that most DIYers can handle.

javan 07-01-2008 02:33 PM

I had a bad one, right out of the box about a month ago. You are correct it happens!

Cow 07-01-2008 06:16 PM

Verify power at the recep.

If GFI is being used line-load, remove load. Try to reset. If it resets, have load wiring checked. If it doesn't, replace GFI.

If no load wiring simply replace GFI.

micromind 07-01-2008 09:31 PM

GFI's have line and load terminals. Line in incoming power, load is outgoing. It's quite common to have these reversed on the original installation. Most GFIs won't reset if the incoming power is on the load terminals. If it's never worked, this would be a good place to start.

This is more rare, but some GFIs won't reset if the hot wire is on the silver screw (which in supposed to be neutral). Just because a white wire is on the silver screw doesn't absolutely mean it isn't hot. It could be mis-spliced somewhere upstream.


P.S. The above posts are exactly correct.

CowboyAndy 07-02-2008 05:48 AM


Originally Posted by javan (Post 135192)
I had a bad one, right out of the box about a month ago. You are correct it happens!

I have experienced this as well... but in this case thats probably not it as the house is over a year old.

BTW, we are neighbors! I am right down the road from you in Chateaugay...

Also, when you check the breaker to see if it is tripped, move it all the way OFF first, when they trip sometimes they don't look like they did...

megan81 07-02-2008 08:35 AM

Thanks for all the info guys ... I checked the breaker in the garage and it is not tripped. I'll pull the outlet out this weekend and try troubleshooting the wiring and maybe just go ahead and replace the GFI. I'll keep you posted ... hopefully I can get this stupid thing working!

Thanks again ... happy 4th!


megan81 07-03-2008 12:58 PM

Well, we pulled out the electrical outlet last night and found the problem. Water had gotten behind the outlet and the screws and everything were rusted, so I'm sure the water shorted the GFI. We connected the wires to create a pass through and the other exterior outlets had power. So we're off to Lowes tonight to get a new GFI outlet WITH plastic cover :)

Thanks for all the tips!! :wink:

Stavop 07-04-2008 07:50 PM

typically a GFCI will not reset and trip using the buttons on the front if power is not available at the device. The one of three that won't reset if on the same circuit is probably not working or wired properly. It is unusual for multiple GFCI's to be on the same circuit, usually they are daisy chained by using the line/load connections on the device itself, normally the first device is the only GFCI device on the branch circuit. Normally exterior and bath circuits are on their own, but in kitchens their is typically 2-20 amp small appliance circuits that sometimes have regular receptacles that are gfci protected.

Check the panel breakers first, if the device will reset and trip it is probably ok. If you don't have a meter or test light try a lamp to find out if you have juice, try tripping it while it is plugged in.

If the inspector is worth his salt he should be able to tell you what the problem is.

JohnJ0906 07-05-2008 08:57 AM


Originally Posted by Stavop (Post 136085)

If the inspector is worth his salt he should be able to tell you what the problem is.

That is not the job of an inspector.

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