Outdoor Outlet Not Working: 5 Common Causes and Fixes

Outdoor outlet

Last Updated on June 23, 2024 by Kravelv

Outdoor outlets, also known as exterior outlets or GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets, are essential for providing power in outdoor spaces. They are designed to be weather-resistant and protect against electrical shock, making them ideal for use in gardens, patios, and other exterior areas. However, like any electrical component, sometimes you’ll find your outdoor outlet not working. This article will help you diagnose and fix common issues with outdoor outlets.

Key Takeaways:

  • Safety Precautions: Always turn off the power before troubleshooting and use proper safety gear and tools.
  • Common Causes: Issues can include tripped GFCI outlets, tripped circuit breakers, faulty outlets, and wiring problems.
  • Troubleshooting Steps: Check the GFCI outlet, inspect the circuit breaker, test the outlet, and examine the wiring for damage.
  • Preventive Measures: Regular inspections, using weatherproof covers, proper installation, and monthly GFCI tests help prevent future problems.

Safety First

Before you begin any troubleshooting or repair work, ensure that you adhere to the following safety precautions:

  1. Turn Off the Power: Always switch off the power at the circuit breaker before working on any electrical outlet. Verify that the power is off by using a non-contact voltage tester.
  2. Use Proper Tools: Use insulated tools to avoid accidental shocks.
  3. Wear Safety Gear: Wear safety goggles and rubber-soled shoes to protect yourself.

Common Causes of Outdoor Outlet Not Working

Several factors can cause an outdoor outlet to stop working. Understanding these causes can help you pinpoint the issue quickly.

Tripped GFCI Outlet

Symptoms: The outlet is not supplying power, and the GFCI reset button is popped out.

Solution: Press the reset button on the GFCI outlet. If it doesn’t stay in or keeps tripping, further investigation is needed.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

Symptoms: The outlet is dead, and other outlets or lights on the same circuit may not work.

Solution: Check your home’s main electrical panel. If the circuit breaker is tripped, reset it by switching it off and then back on. If it trips again, there might be a short circuit or overload.

Faulty Outlet

Symptoms: The outlet shows no signs of power even after resetting the GFCI and circuit breaker.

Solution: Test the outlet using a voltage tester. If there’s no power, the outlet might need to be replaced.

Wiring Issues

Symptoms: The outlet has no power, and you notice signs of corrosion or damage to the wires.

Solution: Inspect the wiring behind the outlet. Look for loose connections, corroded wires, or signs of water damage. Tighten any loose wires and replace damaged wiring.

Weather-Related Damage

Symptoms: The outlet does not work following severe weather conditions.

Solution: Ensure the outlet is weatherproof. Look for water ingress or damage to the outlet cover. Replace the cover or outlet if necessary.

Step-by-Step Troubleshooting Guide

1. Check the GFCI Outlet

  • Locate the GFCI Outlet: Outdoor outlets are typically GFCI outlets to prevent electrical shocks.
  • Press the Reset Button: If the button does not stay in, there might be a ground fault, or the outlet might be faulty.

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2. Inspect the Circuit Breaker

  • Go to the Electrical Panel: Locate the circuit breaker panel in your home.
  • Identify the Tripped Breaker: A tripped breaker will be in the middle position or fully off.
  • Reset the Breaker: Turn it off and then back on. If it trips again, inspect the circuit for overloads or shorts.

3. Test the Outlet

  • Use a Voltage Tester: Insert the probes into the outlet slots to check for voltage. If there’s no reading, the outlet or wiring may be faulty.
  • Check for Continuity: If you have a multimeter, test the continuity of the outlet. No continuity suggests a faulty outlet.

4. Examine the Wiring

  • Turn Off the Power: Ensure the power is off at the breaker.
  • Remove the Outlet Cover: Unscrew the cover plate and outlet from the electrical box.
  • Inspect the Wires: Look for loose, corroded, or damaged wires. Tighten connections and replace damaged wiring as needed.

5. Check for Weather Damage

  • Inspect the Outlet and Cover: Look for signs of water ingress or physical damage.
  • Replace if Necessary: Install a new weatherproof outlet cover or replace the outlet if it’s damaged.

Preventive Measures

To prevent future issues with your outdoor outlet, consider the following tips:

  1. Regular Inspections: Periodically check your outdoor outlets for signs of wear and damage.
  2. Weatherproof Covers: Ensure your outlets have weatherproof covers, especially in areas exposed to rain or snow.
  3. Proper Installation: Ensure outlets are installed according to electrical codes and standards to avoid common issues.
  4. GFCI Maintenance: Test your GFCI outlets monthly by pressing the test button to ensure they trip correctly.

When to Call a Professional

If you’ve tried the above steps and the outlet still isn’t working, or if you encounter complex wiring issues, it’s best to call a licensed electrician. Electrical work can be hazardous, and a professional can ensure the job is done safely and correctly.

Outdoor Outlet Not Working FAQs

What to do if an outdoor outlet is not working?

First, check if the GFCI outlet needs to be reset, inspect the circuit breaker, test the outlet with a voltage tester, and examine the wiring for damage.

How do you reset an outdoor outlet?

Press the reset button on the GFCI outlet; if it doesn’t stay in or keeps tripping, further inspection or replacement may be needed.

Why is my outlet not working but no breaker tripped?

The issue could be a tripped GFCI outlet, a faulty outlet, or wiring problems; check the GFCI outlet and inspect the wiring for loose connections or damage.

When should I call a professional electrician for an outdoor outlet issue?

If you’ve tried troubleshooting steps and the outlet still isn’t working, or if you encounter complex wiring issues, it’s best to call a licensed electrician for safety and proper repairs.

Final Words

An outdoor outlet not working can be due to various issues, including tripped GFCI outlets, tripped circuit breakers, faulty outlets, wiring problems, or weather-related damage. By following the steps in this guide, you can troubleshoot and often resolve these issues. Remember to prioritize safety and seek professional help if needed. Regular maintenance and preventive measures can also help keep your outdoor outlets in good working condition.

Kravelv is a full time digital marketer and part time furniture and cabinet maker. During his free time he would like to create something out of recycled woods, this varies from toys, furnitures plant boxes etc. Follow him on Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook