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How To Install an Outside GFCI Receptacle – Step by Step Instructions with Pictures

January 29, 2008

This past week was a nightmare for me. My wife flew to upstate NY (approximately 2,000 miles east of here) to visit her sister in the hospital, where she stayed all week. The dishwasher quit Tuesday night and when I got home from work on Wednesday, the furnace was not working.

The dishwasher not working was not too big of a deal, but the furnace not working sucked. It got down to 18 degrees below zero fahrenheit Wednesday night here in Bozeman, MT. Fortunately, we have a wood burning fireplace. I also decided to do the laundry Wednesday night so I could use the dryer for heat as well. I disconnected the flexible hose at the wall and stretched it around to the outside of the dryer and put a pair of my wife’s panty hose over the end to catch the lint. This worked well; between the fireplace, the dryer and a couple of space heaters, I was able to keep the house at 64 degrees fahrenheit all night. The furnace was fixed Thursday morning, thankfully.

At any rate, because it was so cold all week, I received several service calls to install outside GFCI receptacles to plug engine heaters into. Friday afternoon was considerably warmer and I installed one about a mile from my house. So, I ran home first and grabbed my camera. I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity and create a blog post about this installation.

The instructions and images below will walk you through step by step on how to install an outside GFCI receptacle. Click on any of the images for a larger view.

The tools you need for this installation are:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Razor knife
  • Wire strippers
  • level
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • GFCI receptacle tester
  • Safety glasses
Hand Tools
You are also going to need something to cut the hole for the receptacle box. I definately prefer the Roto Zip for this. It’s small, light weight, easy to handle, easily adjustable cutting depth and with the wide variety of bits, it can cut through just about anything. As you can see, mine is pretty beat up. I use this tool on a daily basis. I usually burn out 1 to 2 Roto Zips per year, but I use it to cut through everything. In my opinion, this is one of the best tools ever invented. Roto Zip
The materials you need for this installation are:

There is a receptacle on the backside of this wall approximately 2 1/2 feet above the new GFCI I was installing. Typically, I would tap power from this receptacle. However, this garage was a little bit of a wiring nightmare. There were open splices everywhere, including at this receptacle (see image below) and nothing was GFCI protected. I talked to the homeowner about repairing these fire hazards, but they did not have the money now. Fortunately for me, there is a 100 amp breaker box that is properly grounded and there are spaces available. So, I elected to supply a dedicated circuit. This way I wouldn’t have to touch or be responsible for any of the existing wiring.

Code Violations

So, let’s get started installing an outside GFCI receptacle.

Step 1 – Determine and mark the location for your receptacle. Measure
Step 2 – Place the front of the remodel box against the wall and level the box. Level Box
Step 3 – Use a pencil to trace around the outside of the remodel box. Ensure you only trace around the areas that need to be cut. Note the top and bottom of the box. There are “ears” here that prevent the box from falling into the wall; do not cut out for these. See the image to the right for what the outline should look like and note the image in step 5. Outline of box
Step 4 – Cut along the inside of the line to remove the siding and create an opening for the electrical box. Cut the hole
Step 5 – Install the GFCI receptacle box. Install the GFCI receptacle box
Step 6 – Install the NM cable (romex). Install the NM cable (romex)
Step 7 – Staple the NM cable (romex) within 12 inches of the box and approximately every 3 feet thereafter. Staple the NM cable (romex)
Step 8 – Install the GFCI receptacle. Install the GFCI receptacle
Step 9 – Install the weatherproof gasket. Install the weatherproof gasket
Step 10 – Install the weatherproof in use cover. Install the weatherproof in use cover
Step 11 – Turn on the power and test the GFCI receptacle.


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11 Responses to “How To Install an Outside GFCI Receptacle – Step by Step Instructions with Pictures”

  1. Pam Hoffman on January 30th, 2008 4:45 pm

    Hey Wayne!

    Perhaps I missed it – what does GFCI mean exactly?


    Pam Hoffman

  2. Wayne Gilchrist on January 31st, 2008 11:24 pm

    Hi Pam,

    A GFCI is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These are the receptacles with the trip and reset buttons. They are required in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, unfinished basements and outside locations.

  3. The Daily Read - 02/01/2008 | Saphrym on February 1st, 2008 1:39 pm

    […] How To Install an Outside GFCI Receptacle – Step by Step Instructions with Pictures – Ez DIY Electricity – I’m not an electrician but sometimes I need to do work around the house without being charged an arm and a leg. That’s where this blog comes in handy. This is just one example of how much detail they go into to explain the projects. Check it out! […]

  4. angela weller on February 13th, 2008 1:04 pm

    I am in maryland, my garage is without power, lights garage doors, and also
    in the front of house I have two lamp post that light up when dark and go off
    in the morning, all this happened yesterday, there is a Gfci in the garage and I pressed the reset, I went down to basement and circut switch was in the off position when I clicked it to the right it automatically when off position again
    I then unplugged the garage doors which were plugged in the ceiling, can you please tell me what else I can do or look for thank you,
    the rest of the house is fine and all is working except the garage and front 2 lamp post.


  5. butch on March 17th, 2008 5:24 pm

    I am attempting to wire a circuit for my whirlpool tub. The heater requires 120vac dedicated circuit as does the pump. My question is, can I put two dedicated circuits into one outlet? I only require two plugs dedicated and it seems unnecessary to install two outlets to serve this purpose.

  6. oldhandyman on April 7th, 2008 11:30 pm

    A great article. I see that you use your spiral saw a lot. Mine is the handiest tool I have.

    Making the hole for the remodel box always always sounds easy, but can readily cause problems. I ran into a set of tools at that has saved me a lot of time. They make templates that guide a spiral saw to make cut outs for electric boxes. They even have a level built in so my boxes are now neater and level to the world.

  7. Jessica Packard on May 29th, 2008 1:12 pm

    My brother is trying to finish his basement including the wiring. Does anyone know how he can find step-by-step instructions on how to wire a quad receptacle for the entire basement wiring? He has elelctrical experience through the military.

  8. Joe Byrd on July 16th, 2008 7:51 am

    Recently I was troubleshooting an outlet that had been working but went dead. The surge protector was burned out (It had a small TV and VCR on it) and I thought it might have been lightning. Then I found there was no power to the outlet and no breakers were thrown. This room has the closet with the breaker box about six feet away, so I removed the panel cover. The dead outlet was connected to a wire that was hanging beside, but not connected to, a breaker. Evidently when remodelers a few years ago provided additional outlets, they connected ‘piggy-back’ onto a breaker already feeding another circuit. In other words, there had been one breaker with two wires under the set screw feeding a load circuit somewhere and a piggy back wire feeding only one outlet. This wire evidently had just backed out of that connection.

    I had not seen two wires connected to one breaker and I suspect this is not allowed. Please comment on this.

  9. Joe Byrd on July 17th, 2008 6:57 pm

    What is the meaning of ‘Who am I?’ in the entries above?

  10. Elisabeth James on September 27th, 2008 8:49 pm

    I installed a GFCI, the outlet where the GFCI is installed works, but I Now have an outlet in the room that is dead???

  11. lew on October 20th, 2009 9:37 pm

    can i piggy back off the wash machines 20 amp receptacle (currently sole dedicated) and tie in an exterior (outside) GFI receptacle?