What to Do If an Outdoor Outlet Is Not Working

Electrical outlets can be found anywhere in our homes. They’re even installed outside to power lights, tools, and other equipment without running extension cords from inside. You would expect them to be vulnerable to the elements. And, yes, outdoor receptacles do sometimes stop functioning. If an outdoor outlet is not working, here are a few things you can do.

Look for a Tripped Circuit Breaker

Check the electrical panel, whether it’s in the basement, garage, or laundry room. If the breaker for your outdoor outlet is in the “Off” position, try to switch it back on. However, a tripped circuit breaker can be a sign of an overload. Look for other devices that are plugged in and disconnect anything that might be overloading the circuit. A short circuit is another possibility. If you can’t fix the issue by resetting the breaker or unplugging devices, call an electrician.

Check for Loose Connections or Wires

A loose connection in the outlet box can disrupt the flow of electricity. To find one, remove the outlet and check the condition of its internal parts. Loose connections and wires, as well as wires that are damaged or frayed, can cause the circuit to overheat. Once wiring starts burning, an electrical fire can occur. Contact a licensed electrician to safely fix any loose wires or connections.

Has the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Tripped?

Most likely, your outdoor outlet has a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). It cuts power to the outlet when a ground fault is detected, preventing shock or electrocution. Contact between electricity and water is a common reason for this, and outdoor outlets are often exposed to water. 

A tripped GFCI outlet can be turned back on by pressing the reset button on the outlet itself. This is just like the GFCIs in your kitchen, bathroom, or basement. If the outlet trips frequently, or when nothing is plugged in, there may be a wiring issue that a professional must address.

What If More Than One Outlet Isn’t Working?

All of your outdoor outlets may stop working if they’re connected to a single GFCI. In that case, all downstream outlets from the tripped GFCI will not receive power. Try to reset that unit to see if the affected outlets are powered again.

See If An Outdoor Outlet or Appliance Is Wet

If an outlet or appliance is still wet, a GFCI will not reset. Water poses a serious electrical hazard and can cause major damage to electrical circuits and devices. Designed to be protected from rain and other water sources, an outside outlet should be contained in a waterproof casing and can be accessed by opening a waterproof panel. Damage to the casing or panel can cause the outlet and anything plugged into it to short circuit. 

Don’t ever touch a wet outlet. Wait for it to dry and call an electrician to assess and repair the damage.

Replace the Outlet

If an outdoor outlet is not working, it may be faulty. Consider whether it has succumbed to wear and tear or is old and has simply reached the end of its life. Even new outlets can fail due to poor design or low-quality materials. Regardless, your only option at this point is to have the faulty outdoor outlet replaced. For this, it’s best to hire an electrician who is familiar with the latest National Electric Code (NEC) requirements.

Contact Express Electrical Services

Our certified Los Angeles electricians address homeowners’ needs throughout Southern California. We provide outdoor electrical outlet installation and repair and ensure your outdoor receptacles are GFCI-protected. Outdoor outlets can be tricky to troubleshoot and repair but our electricians are available 24/7 to deal with an emergency and get your outlet working again. To ensure the safety and function of your home, call (323) 727-7799 for immediate service.