I put up some Christmas lights outside a few days ago and everything seemed to work fine for the first 2 nights. On the 3rd day, the lights came on for a bit, then went out and I couldn't get them back on. I tried different timers, cords, resetting (GFCI) breaker downstairs, etc. I used an outlet tester and it lit up as an Open Neutral.
I replaced the outlet, which still didn't help, so I tried figuring out the circuit by following wires in the basement. Here's what I came up with (note this seems to be its own standalone circuit that shares a GFCI breaker with another outdoor outlet and the bathroom outlets in our house):
I think this looks like a standard switch loop. The switch's ground wire threw me off at first, since it's not pigtailed into the outlet's ground and is just wrapped around the outside of the casing. I don't have a multimeter, just an outlet tester and a voltage tester:
When the switch is off:
- The outlet tester has no lights lit
- The outlet has no voltage differences across any terminals
- The switch shows no voltage differences across terminals (shouldn't it?)
When the switch is on:
- The outlet tester shows Open Neutral
- The outlet has 120V between Hot and Ground, no voltage diff between Hot and Neutral
- The switch shows no voltage differences across terminals (expected)
I also looked inside the electrical panel and didn't see any obviously loose/disconnected wires.
I don't understand why the switch doesn't show any voltage differences when off, but it is obviously doing something because it still affects the outlet.
What's my best next course of action/investigation?