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NEW USER: so this has probably been covered but every situation is different and I've found some inconsistent work done by the original contractor. Here's the jist:

-Using an electric Pressure washer, I've tripped all three of my outdoor receptacles.

My checklist for finding/fixing the issue:

  • Since these are outdoor I assumed they were GFCI protected so I checked all of them looking for the TEST/Reset buttons. None were present.
  • Next, checked the Breaker Box for a tripped breaker. None were tripped
  • Next, I checked all of the other GFCI outlets that are installed. None were tripped.
  • Next I tested every other existing outlets for power. They were all 100%
  • Next I checked the Breaker panel again for something tripped. All were fine.
  • Next I one by one flipped all of the individual breakers to reset. Still no power
  • Next I flipped the main breaker for the entire unit thinking it may reset any issues. No Luck
  • Is it possible, I need to replace one of the individual breakers even though they all seem to be good?

Lastly, I know the line is all attached for the outside receptacles, but I can't even find where it ties into the breaker box because everything else works. Oh and one thing I have not done for safety reasons because I don't know what breaker to throw, was to pull all the receptacles off individually and check the wiring. I thought about it but If that is the case and I pull one and the wire touches to make the circuit live again, it may not turn out so well.

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    Look for another GFCI outlet indoors. GFCI outlets can protect additional outlets. 20 years ago it was pretty common to have just one somewhere that fed all the outdoor outlets. It might be in a basement, garage, bathroom, kitchen or perhaps anywhere. It might also be hidden by junk, but almost certainly there is one you haven't found yet. – Tyson Jun 13 '17 at 13:09
  • I had a pressure washer which had a GFCI inline on the power cord.... – Steven Jun 14 '17 at 0:02
  • Apparently your pressure washer has a ground fault. It should be repaired. – ArchonOSX Jun 14 '17 at 0:21
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The contractor did right, probably. When you have a string of outlets that goes outside, you put the GFCI inside the house so it's not in the weather. You also try to use a GFCI receptacle instead of breaker because they are cheaper.

You don't need to upturn the entire house looking for this GFCI, just follow the wires back from the outdoor receptacle chain. I'll grant you this is sometimes less than obvious.

Also are you really sure you don't have a GFCI breaker and there isn't a RESET button on the breaker patiently waiting to be pushed? Cycling the breaker may not have that effect.

You can easily de-energize the receptacles in question, just turn off the main. You are probably wise to do that, as it will educate you as to how the wires are routed.

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The string of outlets can be protected by a GFCI outlet that feeds your outside outlets. When I used to install gfci's for outside outlets I would locate them inside at a door so it would be close to reset and protected from moisture. It is possible that your outside protection could be in any room of the house, check all your inside outlets for gfci's especially on the same wall closer to your breaker panel and you will probably find a tripped GFCI outlet that feeds the outside.

  • Like stated above, done and done and yes that's the logical answer. I believe I'm down to loose wiring in 1/3 or is is possible to need to swap a breaker itself even if power is still full on all? – Brand91discsports Jun 15 '17 at 11:33
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The answer is you have a tripped GFCI. I know you said you checked all of them but there is one out there you haven't found. Over the years the NEC has gotten more strict on where to locate GFCI's for outdoor receptacles. So depending on when your house was built will help indicate where the GFCI is. Look around the exterior for one receptacle with a GFCI in it and around the garage or utility room especially behind shelving or cabinets that might be hiding an outlet. I have actually found one that controlled the exterior in an upstairs bathroom.

Your panel should be labeled to show which breaker controls which circuits. Some of these are pretty generic. So look for area like the kitchen, bathroom, utility etc.

In order to save money most contractors install one GFCI at the beginning of a circuit and feed through it to protect the rest in the circuit. This is not against the NEC except the receptacles must be labeled "GFCI Protected". Most people then peel them off because they are ugly.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

  • Thank you for the response. I am the original owner of the property, in fact had it built 13 years ago. So I know where every outlet is inside and out and like already stated checked and tested and reset ALL the GFCI's. Just to be sure, I even re-inspected both my attic space and crawl space hidden receptacles..none found. Also every other receptacle has juice. I know it connects to a ground fault but I don't know which one b/c they are all live. Could it be a loose wire on one of the 3. If that is the issue would 1 loose wire disrupt the whole circuit? – Brand91discsports Jun 15 '17 at 11:30
  • If all of your GFCI's are working then the next move would be to check at the panel with a voltmeter and make sure you have power to all of your breakers. I suspect you will find they are ok. If that's true then you just have to start checking each outlet with a voltmeter and work your way back through the circuit until you find the problem. You might start with the GFCI's and make sure the you have power on the load side. – Retired Master Electrician Jun 16 '17 at 12:32
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Start looking for ANY GFCI outlet on the exterior wall, closest to the breaker box, between your failed outlet and your breaker box. The outlet could be INDOORS too. I've seen them inside a garage affecting outdoor outlets.

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