Today we had a massive thunderstorm with hail and buckets of rain. When I got home, I noticed that the back pond pumps were no longer running. Uh oh. That probably means the GFI tripped.
Yup. I have one outlet box for which the lid will not stay shut, and if it rains hard, it gets water inside. It's a double-gang box, and the left outlet pair had shorted itself out earlier in the summer because of water infiltration. I only need two outlets in the summer (three in the winter - adding the pond heater), so I had purchased another outlet pair but had not yet installed it.
After poking around a bit, it seemed like the other pair had now shorted itself out. I took this as an opportunity to install the replacement. The first thing I noticed after opening it all up was that there was a big giant hole corroded through the back of the box where it rested on the ground. Wonderful. Now it can flood from both sides. But it's late, and I need to get the pump running before dark, so I replace the outlets that I can and vow to replace the box and other side on the weekend.
While wiring up the new outlet, I note that the color coding is reversed. I think to myself, "Self, the guy that did these ponds was a complete idiot when it came to wiring - running unshielded wire 3" underground, putting outlet boxes on the ground with no support post, running the Romex into the outlet boxes with no clamp/strain relief, using a GFI outlet and a GFI breaker on the same circuit. Do you think he got the polarity backwards at the other end of this Romex, and then reversed it again at this end to make the polarity correct, or do you think he didn't bother to read the labels on the outlets that very clearly say "WHITE WIRE" where the black is hooked up? The former would require actually checking the outlet with a circuit tester to discover the reversal and then fixing it at the wrong end of the wire. The latter would require just absolute utter incompetence. I'll go with door #2, Monty."
So I just did a quickie hookup so there were no loose wires, flipped on the power, and tested the circuit. Yup. Backwards polarity. Easy enough to fix. But now I'll have to go check all the other damned boxes in the yard for all the millions of pond pumps he had. Knowing that the wiring is wrong to electrical devices that go, oh, UNDER WATER is very reassuring.
I think Dr. A-berg is right. I'm a chore-blogger.