GFI Receptacle Question

The GFI receptacle in my downstairs bathroom doesn't seem to work. I can't get the Test button to move. I opened up the box, and disconnected it.
I put my circuit tester up to the black and white wires, and there's no juice.
Then, I put one leg of the tester on the hot (black) side, and the other side right to the box. Lo and behold, there's power.
I can't believe that I've lost my ground, but can't seem to understand why the tester doesn't indicate power when I put it across the white and black wires.
My guess is that the GFI receptacle is probably fine.
Helpful input is, as always, gratefully appreciated.
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You haven't lost your ground, you've lost your neutral

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FLHTPI wrote:

It sounds like you have lost the neutral (white) line somewhere up stream from that device.
There is also another possibility. What kind of circuit tester are your using? A modern digital meter?
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On Sat, 17 Jun 2006 19:56:08 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

Circuit tster: It's just two leads with a light bulb. ...Lost my neutral...not sure what that means or what to do...
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The white wire is "neutral", the bare wire (which is connected to the metal box) is the ground.
Since the bulb lights when connected to the box and black, you have a good hot lead and a good ground lead. It's the neutral (white) wire that is having issues.
Does this white wire go to a wirenut inside the box, or to a switch/etc? Make sure the connection there is good. If it's still not working you need to find out what other fixtures/outlets are connected to the circuit and check the white wires at those points. It sounds very much like the white wire has come loose someplace.
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The GFI is switched. The other things (light fixtures) on the same circuit seem to run fine.
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You aren't listening... CHECK THE OTHER BOXES ON THE SAME CIRCUIT!
Hook your car to a trailer, but DON'T tighten the hitch. Now drive away. The trailer just sits there, but the car drives away fine. The problem was at the CAR, where the trailer was CONNECTED.
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FLHTPI wrote: ..

The neutral is the white wire. Electrical circuits require two wires to function. In the usual 120V application the power runs through the black (or red) and white wires. The green or plane copper wire is a ground. The ground and the neutral are connected back at the breaker box and should not be connected anywhere else.
In your case the white wire is no longer connected from the GFI to the breaker box. You need to find out where. You have been given a couple of good ideas.
BTW your situation is exactly why the neutral and ground should not be connected anywhere other than at the breaker box because with an open neutral (a disconnected white wire) the ground wire would be carrying current and that means anything grounded by that ground would also be hot and capable of producing a shock.
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On Sun, 18 Jun 2006 00:50:48 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

NEW INFORMATION:
OK, based on the help I got here, I checked out my circuit. Here's what I have:
The GFI is switched. When the light comes on it's supposed to be live.
I checked the wiring for the light, and here's what I found: There are three wires coming out of the wall at the light.
The black is connected to black for the light. The white is connected to white for the light. There's a double Brown wire is connected to both the black and white, (one leg to each).
At the GFI, there are only a black and white, (actually, there's a ground at both locations, too).
When I disconnect the brown from either the white or the black at the light, the GFI works but the light doesn't.
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FLHTPI wrote:

Describe those brown wires. I hope they are not the same kind of cord used to make extension cords? Are they the same as the other wires except for color? You are not in the UK are you?
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