Strangest Electrical Problem

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Old 11-26-16, 06:01 PM
J
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Unhappy Strangest Electrical Problem

We recently moved into a new home. We went to setup Christmas lights for the first time and discovered that NONE of the outdoor electrical outlets work. It was evident after a little troubleshooting that they were all daisy chained together. The outlet on the back porch goes to the outlet on the front porch, which goes to the outlet on the side of the house, which goes to a GFCI outlet in the garage, which goes to the breaker box in the garage.

It seems that the GFCI outlet in the garage will trip itself ever 30 minutes despite the fact that nothing is plugged into ANY of the 4 outlets.

To make things ever STRANGER, when we reset the GFCI, the GFCI outlet always registers power, but the outdoor outlets still have trouble. I tried to troubleshoot to a single bad outlet somewhere along the chain, but instead I found that the problem lies with the outdoor outlet covers, yes..... the COVERS! If I screw the cover on tight, the outlet doesn't work. If I loosen the cover, they work just fine.

Don't believe me? Check out this video I shot highlighting the problem: https://youtu.be/JgCN2uE4YN8

As you can see, I tighten the cover on the outlet stops working. Why would this be? I really hope someone has an explanation for this craziness.
 
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Old 11-26-16, 06:13 PM
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The proximity tester is detecting induced voltage. You should be using an analog multimeter for testing. Remove the power to the receptacle and pull the receptacle from the box. I think you will find either a loose wire or a broken receptacle. As far as the tripping GFCI, it could be a bad receptacle and needs replacing. They do go bad on occasion. Let us know what you find when you remove the receptacle.
 
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Old 11-26-16, 06:32 PM
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Thanks Chandler,

I did remove the receptacles when I was originally troubleshooting. I thought I would find a bad outlet so when I found the outlet dead, I removed the outlet from the retro box and tested the power coming to the outlet and found no power. Name:  Front Door Electrical Outlet.jpg
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Size:  36.7 KBName:  AC Electrical Outlet.jpg
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Size:  42.3 KB See attached pictures.

I was trying to troubleshoot back to the breaker box, I removed the face plate upon discovering no power at the outlet, removed the outlet, tested the cables coming to the outlet, and repeat. Everytime I would find myself at the GFCI in the garage next to the breaker box, and the GFCI would be tripped. I would reset the GFCI, go back to the outdoor outlets (still stripped from the wall) to find them ALL working. Then I reassembled the outlets and upon screwing the cover on, I would find the outlet no longer working again. Endless cycle.
 
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Old 11-26-16, 06:49 PM
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It may not be the answer, but the wire circled seems to be either blown out or stressed in some way. It could be the cause of loss of power. It could also mean I need better glasses, but check it out as well, as it looks enlarged for a short section.

Name:  Front Door Electrical Outlet.jpg
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Old 11-26-16, 06:56 PM
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Good eyes Chandler! It's electrical tape. I noticed a nick in the cable insulation, so to be on the safe side, I wrapped it with electrical tape. Despite the patch, the problems persists. The video was shot after the patch was applied, and the recepticle placed back in the wall.
 
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Old 11-27-16, 05:15 AM
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Frist off, it is not shorting out. If it was there would be a spark and the circuit breaker would blow.

As Chandler mentioned, you need to test with a real meter instead of a non-contact voltage tester.
 
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