Low voltage on outdoor receptacle

Hi,
I have an outdoor GFCI receptacle that tripped and wouldn't reset, I took it out and the voltage between white/ground and hot is only 12 V. I have tried resetting all circuit breakers (none had obviously popped) but it still only reads 12 V. How is this even possible, and where should I look to repair it? Thanks
Peter
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snipped-for-privacy@ucdavis.edu wrote:

If you are using an "electronic" test meter, the black wire is likely disconnected and "floating" somewhere between the breaker and where you're at and that voltage you're seeing is just being capacitively coupled to the black wire from some other nearby wire with 120 volts on it.
Open up the panel and see if you have 120 volts to neutral/ground at the output of the breaker feeding the circuit in question. If you do, move forward from there and find the "loose disconnection".
If you don't find voltage there you have a bad breaker, but that's a far less likely reason.
HTH,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia

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Thanks for the response. What is the most likely reason that original wiring (house built in 1970) would disconnect? It's been ten years since I've done anything significant with house wiring -- now that you mention it, I remember seeing phantom voltages before when several wires were going through the same hole in the support beams.
Peter
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It's extremely unlikely the one outlet will be on a circuit by itself, so unless other outlets or lights are dead as well, you'll more likely find the power coming from a nearby receptacle. But before looking there, check to see if any other GFCI outlets in bathrooms, basement, garage, or kitchen are tripped and if so, reset it and then check your outside wires again
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Guess I need to do some circuit hunting. When we moved in, I mapped the inside circuits, but not the outside receptacles. Is it likely that one GFCI would be downstream from another?
Peter
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In a house built later than yours, like in the eighties, it would be common to install a standard receptacle downstream of a gfci, protected by the upstream gfci. If someone came along and didn't realize the outlet was protected, they may install a gfci receptacle at that location. This would of course complicate things when one gfci tripped. However to the best of my knowledge and memory, gfci protection was not code in 1970, so I'd be looking for an open circuit in a backstabbed outlet very near to the gfci that's dead

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snipped-for-privacy@ucdavis.edu wrote:

Is that 12V on the dead side of the GFCI or is it on the hot side? It sounds like you are using a digital highly sensitive meter on a dead circuit that is no measuring a "real" voltage. Likely if you were measure the same thing with an analog meter you would get 0 volts.
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The 12V is between the bare wire hot and bare wire white/grnd. I have a digital Fluke meter.
Peter
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snipped-for-privacy@ucdavis.edu wrote:

It you mean you are on the side that has the power coming in and you are getting 12V you have a problem. You should bet 120V and the 12 is likely just the current induced from a live circuit to this one that is really dead. Put a load on the line (like switch on a light anywhere on the circuit and it will likely drop to zero.
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