Outdoor outlet blown? xmas lights...


Old 12-09-04, 06:50 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 199
Outdoor outlet blown? xmas lights...

we have an outdoor outlet with the little covers that fold down. The other night it was raining and i plugged in the xmas lights. there was a little spark, nothing huge, and the lights stayed on all night. Unplugged them before i went to bed but (like a dummy) left the covers open all night (it had stopped raining but was damp out)
Next day, nothing. Tried flipping the circuit breakers to no avail. So is this outlet toast now? Should I try swapping an outlet from inside if Im not sure what im doing? Should i call an electrician? How severe do you think the problem is?
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Old 12-09-04, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Go to your home center and buy an "in use" cover. This differs from those little doors in that it protects the outlet from the weather even when something is plugged in. In fact, it is required by code when you have outdoor receptacles with stuff plugged in unattended.

You need to dry out the outlet. This can be sped up a bit with a hair dryer (plugged in elsewhere of course) on a low setting. Take the cover plate off the receptacle and blow some warm air into the box around the receptacle to help dry it out.

Once it's dry, you should be able to reset the GFCI. Do you know where the GFCI is for this outlet? If it's not right there, it might be in the garage.
Old 12-10-04, 06:34 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 199
GFCI...no...I know where the main fuse box is for the house...thats about it...
Old 12-10-04, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 510
How old is your house? All houses built in the last couple decades will have multiple GFCIs. Many older houses have had them added later as a safety upgrade.

Do you know what a GFCI looks like? They generally look like a "decorator" style duplex outlet with two small buttons between the outlets, one marked "test" and one marked "reset". Sometimes the buttons are red and black, sometimes they are white. Some GFCIs may have an LED which lights when the GFCI trips.

You need to look everywhere in your house for GFCI outlets (one GFCI outlet can protect other outlets on the same circuit). The GFCI for an outside outlet may be almost anywhere - another outside outlet, in the garage, in the basement, in the utility room...

Look everywhere and push the reset button on every one you find.
Old 12-10-04, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 973
To add to what Mike said...

If there are no GFCI outlets, check the panel box. There may be GFCI breakers. These look like ordinary breakers, but have a "Test" button on them. If you press the test button, the breaker should trip. The switch will likely fall halfway between the off and on position. To reset it, you have to push it the rest of the way to "off", then back to on. If the breaker doesn't trip when you press the test button, it is BAD.

That's what my house has...one GFCI breaker. It feeds the bathroom outlets, one outdoor outlet, and several garage outlets. The GFCI function no longer works, so I have no protection. I will probably replace the first outlet on the circuit with a GFCI outlet rather than replace the breaker with another GFCI breaker.

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