1. Check for a GFCI and reset it
Most often a GFCI installed in the garage will control the outlets both inside the garage and outside the home. A GFCI outlet will have a reset button in the middle and a light. Typically, if the light is amber or red, a ground fault event has occurred. A GFCI breaker might have an orange or red flag pop up in the window. In order to reset some breakers they do need to be turned all the way off to initiate a reset before they can be turned back on. As long as the outlet or breaker has determined that the ground fault is still present neither will reset until it’s safe to do so.
As an Austin electrician we tend to get this request the morning after a big rain has come through the area. Someone goes to their car to leave for work, presses the garage door opener and nothing happens - strange. So they check a couple of the outlets in the garage and those aren’t working either. In most cases the culprit is a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter). GFCI outlets or breakers are units that have special electronics inside that specifically look for ground fault events like when an outlet gets wet from a rainstorm. GFCI protection is meant to keep us safe in case a threat is present that could cause harm.
In most cases after a rainstorm, the GFCI outlet in the garage will trip to stop power from going to an area that may have been affected by moisture. If it was a light rain overnight the GFCI may reset pretty easily. If the GFCI is still picking up moisture at one of the exterior outlets it likely won’t reset until the outlet has completely dried out, sometimes this takes a few dry, sunny days.
After the GFCI resets it may be worth recaulking the outlets around the outside of the house. Caulk is a great moisture barrier but it doesn’t last forever in our Central Texas weather and tends to pull away from the house after some time. It’s a good idea to touch up the exterior caulking every few years or as needed on all exterior outlets and light fixtures. We suggest using caulk (not sealant) and choosing a clear, paintable caulk that can be found at any home improvement store.
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