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Old 08-09-2009, 07:54 AM   #1
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Outdoor outlets


I am looking for help in trying to turn on our outdoor outlets. This is a newly built house, but we do not have access to the builder or electrical company that installed. I verified their are wires to the outlets. I also verified the breakers are all open and turned on all lights and verified any gfci outlets I can find to see if it is wired to something else. Unfortunately, I am unable to find any way to turn this on. Is there some standard way in which outdoor outlets are wired in new construction (obviously may vary by location). I am also searching for the best tool to help track the line. Was hoping for a plug type of sound indicator that can send a signal from the outlet.. but most things I see seem to rely on the outlets having power in the first place.

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Old 08-09-2009, 08:15 AM   #2
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Outdoor outlets


check your crawl space or garage (if you have either) for a GFI.

I've had a couple new houses where they put a GFI in the foyer to feed the outdoor receptacles.

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Old 08-09-2009, 08:16 AM   #3
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Outdoor outlets


Are the outdoor outlets GFCI?
Is anything labelled in the breaker panel? - required by code
Are there GFCI breakers in the panel?

If thee outdoor outlets are not GFCI & there aren't any GFCI breakers then there must be another GFCI outlet somewhere else
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:14 AM   #4
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Outdoor outlets


Hidden upstream GFCIs are one of the banes of my existence as a home inspector, I carry a 100 foot heavy-duty extension cord for times when a freezer or fridge in the garage is on such a circuit I can't locate the GFCI after it trips.

A few possibilities to watch for:

- Likeliest possibility is an outlet in a garage, hidden behind personal possessions.

- Next most likely are the basement and kitchen, in that order

- Next most likely possibility is a GFCI in a bathroom, don't assume it's the obvious GFCI near the sink.

- If there is a remodeled basement, the GFCI may be paneled over, or hidden back behind some bit of finish material but visible with a hand mirror.

- I have found GFCIs protecting exterior outlets and installed in attics.

- In outlet boxes located high up on the wall or under the eaves to power holiday lighting.

- In load side panels ("sub panels") hidden in closets and the like.

- Worst case is when someone has drywalled over the GFCI, this one doesn't get located until electrician starts tracing down the circuit.

If you can't find the GFCI, check every outlet in the house for power, dead interior outlets can be a clue to the presence of an upstream GFCI.

BTW, if you're going to test exterior outlets for GFCI protection, have people standing in the likeliest locations and listening for a trip - it can help a lot even to know in what room or general area of the structure you need to be looking.
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:36 AM   #5
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Outdoor outlets


Just an FYI for the DIY, being new construction, the outdoor receptacles wouldn't/shouldn't be fed from bath or kitchen GFI's.
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Old 08-09-2009, 10:50 AM   #6
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Outdoor outlets


Quote:
Originally Posted by DIY_JC View Post
I am looking for help in trying to turn on our outdoor outlets.
I verified their are wires to the outlets.
If both neutral and ground are disconnected in these outlets it is probably an open GFCI.
If it's just the hot lead that is off then it's probably a breaker.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:29 PM   #7
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Outdoor outlets


Oh... and one other place to look: under the kitchen sink!

As noted above kitchen utility counter circuits should not be powering exterior outlets, but in older constrcution and rehabs I sometimes find this has been done anyway...
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Last edited by Michael Thomas; 08-09-2009 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:25 PM   #8
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Outdoor outlets


Could these be wired as "Christmas Lights" receptacles? Look in a closet near the front door for an unknown switch. It might control the receptacles.
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:12 PM   #9
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Outdoor outlets


You guys nailed it... the only outlet in the garage is a gfi. We have a spare fridge in front of that one in need of repair, so I missed that one. One click and all is well again.


thanks to all~

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