I am hoping for some help here because this problem is driving me nuts. A few days ago our outdoor outlets stopping working (we had Xmas lights plugged in). There is also an outlet in our basement and one in the garage also not working. I am assuming these are all GFCI protected and on the same circuit. I cannot for the life of me figure out the problem. I have reset/checked every GFCI outlet in the house and none of the circuit breakers on the main panel are tripped.

I also took off the outlet plates and checked the wires in each dead outlet with a non-contact test and neither set of wires is hot. This would indicate the problem is not with the individual outlet correct?

I also checked the line and load sides of the GFCI plugs inside the house and both appear to be functional.


  • Are all of the non-functioning outlets fed from the load side of the GFCI? Does the GFCI outlet itself work? Is the hot wire leading to the GFCI actually hot?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 28, 2020 at 17:31
  • To clarify, none of the dead outlets are GFCI outlets, I am assuming they are all on the same circuit which is GFCI protected. There are two sets of wires in each (except for last one) so I assume they are all daisy chained together. Neither set of wires is hot so I assume the problem is not the outlet itself.
    – mjmadalis
    Dec 28, 2020 at 18:16
  • Also there are 3 GFCI circuit breakers, none of which are tripped
    – mjmadalis
    Dec 28, 2020 at 18:16
  • Do you know what breaker that circuit is on? Can you test power is leaving the breaker? Could also be a bad wire in the wall somewhere. Uncommon but it happens, as I just had that issue myself.
    – Phaelax z
    Dec 28, 2020 at 18:17
  • It sounds like you have no idea which outlets belong to which breaker so now that something is broken you cannot properly trace the problem. I would call a good electrician as they should be able to trace things rather quickly. If not then getting a circuit breaker finder sounds like it could help alleviate some headaches. amazon.com/Extech-CB10-Circuit-Breaker-Finder/dp/B0014FNWJG
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 28, 2020 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


As you suspected your Christmas lights apparently tripped the GFCI. The trick is locating the controlling GFCI. In some homes built in the 70s and 80s garage, exterior and bathrooms are on the same GFCI circuit. The GFCI might be on the breaker as well.
"I also checked the line and load sides of the GFCI plugs inside the house and both appear to be functional."
It sounds like you've tried all of the GFCI outlets without luck but you probably missed one. If none of the breakers are GFCI protected you need to determine which of your GFCI outlets is first on the circuit after the breaker on the problem circuit. With a multimeter check the line side for power. If there is power on the line side and not on the load side and it won't reset, you need to replace that GFCI outlet. If there is no power coming into the controlling GFCI the problem is most likely at the breaker. It's unusual for a breaker to fail but it happens.

  • Thanks. I have no found any of the outlets tripped but did check them all. I have been through the house so unless one is hiding I think I've hit them all. There are 3 GFCI protected circuits on the board but none of those are tripped either. It does appear to me that all have power as I verified 120v across the breaker.
    – mjmadalis
    Dec 28, 2020 at 18:18
  • All of the outlets you described are typically GFCI protected by code. If they are on the same circuit and the breaker is delivering power the problem is obviously between the breaker and the first failed outlet, possibly in the wall. If you're not confident in tracing it you may need an electrician to check the circuit.
    – HoneyDo
    Dec 28, 2020 at 20:38
  • @ honeydo , if the outside receptacles require GFCI protection depends on the build date. So I would not say obvious and I do this all the time.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 28, 2020 at 20:55
  • @Ed Beal - Noted. Thanks, Ed.
    – HoneyDo
    Dec 28, 2020 at 21:05
  • The house was built in 2005. Unsure of Code but would think they are all protected.
    – mjmadalis
    Dec 28, 2020 at 21:15

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