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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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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