Since we are privileged Americans, we generally have access to working power outlets whenever we need them. What happens when your usual power source doesn’t work? Should you call an electrician? Sell the house? Don’t worry! Moving off the grid doesn’t have to happen just yet. If your outdoor outlet isn’t working, try one of these three solutions before calling an expensive professional.
There are usually one or two outdoor power outlets placed around most single-family homes. The outlets in your house can also stop working just like those outdoors. Why does this happen? This guide is all about causes and solutions of outside outlets not working.
Why are outdoor outlets not working?
There are several likely causes behind the failure of your outdoor electrical outlets. There are, however, some that are harder to spot than others. Let’s examine each of these causes and what you can do to fix them.
Faulty circuit breaker
Start by ruling out the most straightforward and quickest causes of your outdoor electrical outlets when troubleshooting them. If this is the case, you need to start by checking the circuit breakers at the main electrical box of your house.
While your outside electrical outlets do not have power due to their circuit breaker being off, the rest of your house is still powered. It can happen when a sudden surge of power, or another electrical fault, occurs. Consequently, the circuit breaker for those outlets will trip as a way to protect them from damage.
The circuit breaker can be turned back on by opening the main electrical box and finding it in the middle or off position. Power will be restored to the outlets, and you can use them normally again.
GFCI outlet tripped
If you’ve checked your household’s main electrical box, you still have to check another circuit breaker. Outside power outlets and GFCI outlets often share the same circuit. Ground fault circuit interrupters protect the entire circuit from electrical faults with that abbreviation.
GFCI outlets work similarly to the circuit breakers you checked earlier. You will find the breaker built into one of the outlets, not in the main electrical box with the other outlets. The GFCI outlet protects the outside power outlet. In practice, you will find the actual GFCI somewhere indoors. GFCI outlets are usually found in the garage in most homes.
Look for the GFCI outlet and see if it has been tripped. One of its buttons will protrude outward when it does this. To turn that circuit back on, you have to press the reset button. This way, power will be restored to outdoor outlets on the same circuit.
A wet outlet outside
The problem can usually be resolved by resetting the circuit breaker or GFCI outlet after a trip. However, an intermittent problem on the circuit will cause those components to trip repeatedly. That’s frustrating, but it’s also a sign of a dangerous problem you need to address right away. For example, if the outside outlet is wet, that is extremely dangerous for the entire electrical circuit.
All of your outside outlets must be enclosed in a waterproof housing. If the outlet isn’t in use, it will be protected from the weather by a waterproof cover that closes when not in use. Damaged casings or doors that don’t close properly can let water into the outlet, causing it to short circuit. In addition, any appliance plugged into that socket could also be affected. It is also possible for light fixtures plugged into outlets to become wet and cause the whole circuit to go out.
Stay away from the outside outlets and appliances as you fix the problem. If it hasn’t dried completely, you will need an electrician to assess it. Then, replace or repair the waterproof casing, so the outlet does not get wet again. The appliances you plug into your outdoor power outlet should also be considered carefully. If one of those appliances gets wet1, the power receptacle may also suffer an electrical failure, resulting in a malfunction.
3 simple solutions if the outdoor outlet is not working
Check if you tripped a circuit breaker.
You should check the circuit breaker first when you notice that an outlet isn’t working to see if it has tripped or blown a fuse. Check your electrical panel, which is usually located in a basement, laundry room, or garage, to see if either of these problems is causing the problem. The breakers have been tripped whenever you see any breaker switches in the “off” position.
A circuit overload or short circuit caused by a device plugged into a circuit is the most common cause of a circuit breaker trip. A professional electrician should be contacted if you notice this is the issue. The problem can sometimes be caused by a loose wire in the electrical box, so this is especially important. You should only work with loose wires if you are an experienced electrician.
Check for loose connections.
Another issue you may experience with the outdoor outlet is loose connections. The outlet must be removed from the box to check for loose connections that may be obstructing the flow of electricity. Electrical fires can occur due to loose connections, as the outlet can overheat and the wiring can burn. Because of this, if you suspect you have a loose connection with your outlet, call a professional electrician right away.
Verify that your ground fault circuit interrupter is not tripped.
If you’re unfamiliar with GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters), you should leave this job to the pros. As soon as they detect an energy leak, GCFIs trip and shut down, protecting homes against electrical shock. Bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and the exterior of houses are commonly affected by GCFIs. Contact a professional electrician if you notice your GFCI has been tripped.
As you can see, there are many reasons why an outdoor outlet might not work. Working with a pro is the best way to restore your home’s functionality. In this way, you can ensure that the job is done correctly and that you don’t endanger your family or home.
Because they feature impermeable coverings that shield the outlet even when a cord is plugged in, outside power outlets set themselves apart from indoor outlets. Additionally, the National Electrical Code mandates that GFCI outlets be used for all outdoors connections (ground fault circuit interrupter outlets).