Long-time lurker, first time poster. Reasonably competent DIYer, but not a licensed electrician.
I have a pair of two-outlet (1-gang) electrical boxes mounted at the top of a wooden post in my yard. One outlet pair is GFCI; the other is a plain outlet. None of the four outlets was working.
I turned off the breaker and started by replacing the two outlet pairs with known-good, weather-resistant ones (one GFCI, one plain, to match the original setup). Both outlets now work. (Evidently the problem was that the old GFCI was dead — "test" button did nothing, and "reset" button did not pop). So the wiring in the conduit seems OK.
While troubleshooting, I noticed that the boxes themselves are not in good shape. They are metal but do not appear to be outdoor grade, so they're corroded in spots, have a fair bit of debris inside, the screws attaching the boxes to the wooden post are themselves corroded, etc. Also, since they are attached to the wooden post, I'm unsure as to how to properly weatherproof this setup where each existing box is mounted to the post (the only thing I can think of would be some outdoor-grade silicone or caulk along the edges?). The setup looks like this (GFCI side shown; the box in the background contains the regular outlet):
I bought replacement covers for the fronts of the boxes, but I'm wondering if the most appropriate thing to do is replace the boxes altogether (similar to this thread, though not quite the same issue). (Note: I'm aware of the advice to just install the GFCI at the last indoor outlet on the circuit. But the relevant breaker is wired so that it covers not only the outlets on the nearby deck, but also some lights and fans — and I don't wish to spend time tracing out the topology to identify which indoor outlet is "last." I am OK with the slightly increased cost of an additional GFCI.)
3 specific questions:
Would it be better to replace the box cover(s), or just replace the boxes themselves?
If full replacement, what's the proper way to remove the old box from the top of the conduit? There are two flanged collars underneath (one on the conduit back to the house, the other presumably on the one leading to the adjacent box). But I'm having trouble unscrewing them with a wrench: they are so close together that I can't get the tip of the adjustable far enough in to get good purchase on the hex flange. I'm actually concerned that these might have been glued in place with PVC cement -- so even if I managed to grab one of the hex flanges firmly enough, I'd just break the coupler if I applied enough force. Also, they are of different sizes -- the one on the left appears to read "Cantex 5140103" (and does not look like the current version of that part), but I can't seem to get a 1-inch wrench to fit the flange, and the 1.25-inch adjustable is too bulky to fit. And the one on the right is wider (the nut might read "1 1/2," though I only see the "half" in the photo), but that thing appears to be an irregular 10- or 12-sided polygon, not a hexagon:
- If I can manage to fish out and replace at least the run of stranded black wire from the GFCI outlet to the second outlet with solid Cu wire, does anyone know of any code issues with doing so? I was surprised to find stranded blacks here, and they're more of a pain to attach securely to the outlets than the red and white lines (which are trivially easy to mount cleanly, whether back-stab or hooked under the connection screw).
Apologies for the length of this post; hopefully I've provided enough info to clearly illustrate the problem I'm trying to solve. Thanks in advance, all, for suggestions or guidance.
Edit (2022-11-02 23:08 CDT): Thank you, everyone, for the incredibly detailed explanations. I wish I could accept multiple posts as solutions, since I will likely try several of the ideas posted here (short term: quick paint/in-use cover; long term: taller 4x4 + extended conduit + single outdoor-rated 2-gang receptacle) — particularly those by Ecnerwal, Machavity, Harper, jay613, and George Anderson.
I mistakenly thought this would take a few hours, but unfortunately have to travel the next few days. I will post a follow-up here when I've had a chance to properly attempt the suggestions provided. Thank you again, everyone, for generously lending your expertise.