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What is the life expectancy of a GFCI receptacle with an in-service cover? The receptacle has been replaced yearly for the past several years. The factory cord to the pump for my continuous operation waterfall is covered by sand and flag stone, on the patio.

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    Sounds like you have some other issue if the outlet is inoperable after a year. They should last a looooooooong time. Your pump could be the issue, and I would say is most likely the issue. – Jeff Cates Mar 18 at 23:09
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    Are there signs of water infiltration into the box the GFCI is mounted in? Where on this planet are you, anyhow? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 18 at 23:27
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    Are you using a WR rated GFCI? WR GFCI's cost a little more but the electronics are potted or sealed so they will last much longer, I recently had one that was submerged because of the flooding, I turned the power off before the water got all the way up to it and it was underwater for a day, several days after the water went back to normal winter levels I pulled the cover making sure there was not any water in the box and gave it a try, I did not expect it to still work but it is ok. – Ed Beal Mar 19 at 15:35
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    @EdBeal right on the money. It would explain the problem. Still, I don't see a reason to use a WR rated unit if a plain unit could simply be mounted indoors and feed this circuit from its 'LOAD' lines – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 20 at 3:13
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    WR is at the point of use, if I had to go back to my panel , it would take a while, but 20 to 50' when outside it's right there after last week's flood and my 20 amp leviton GFCI is still works, I am even a stronger advocate of the reset being close to the outlet, or receptacle!!!! You rip outside GFCI's all the time as I did prior to WR models. I have more than 100 home owners ask me to remove GFCI's outside prior to WR models that were only in damp boxes. Not current code. , so especially after our issue and a 3-1/2 year old fixture survived total submission I would like to see proof! – Ed Beal Mar 20 at 3:37
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Based on your description, it sounds like the GFCI is with an outdoor receptacle. That makes it susceptible to weather, and in this case also to spray from the waterfall.

As noted by Ed Beal, a high-quality Weather Resistant GFCI receptacle should do just fine. If you are replacing each year with an ordinary GFCI receptacle then an upgrade to WR should provide much longer life. The extra $10 for a top-quality WR instead of a regular non-WR really isn't very much. Add a few $ for an in-use cover and it gets even better.

But if you already have WR and it hasn't solved the problem, or if you want a little more peace of mind, switch the receptacle for an ordinary weather resistant receptacle. Install GFCI either at an upstream receptacle or in the breaker panel. That will provide the same protection but move the electronics to a safe dry location. Everything else (except the pump of course) is passive and not as affected by water unless there is an actual fault - which the GFCI protects.

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    Yes, the crux of the problem is the GFCI is being left outside. If it were a plain outlet with the GFCI protection installed indoors, that would last 20 years. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 18 at 23:36
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    If it was a GFCI breaker or an old school receptacle outside I would agree, but not with a WR stamped GFCI this is water resistant and I just powered one up that went under water for a day. – Ed Beal Mar 20 at 3:43

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