Wednesday, February 1, 2023


Ask Dave: Two of our RV’s outlets are not working. How can we fix them?

Dear Dave,
We had an electrical problem with our Alpine 3250RL 5th wheel. My husband, John, found most of the problem and fixed it, except for the outside receptacle and the kitchen island receptacle. Those two outlets still don’t work. —Linda

Dear Linda,
Typically, the exterior outlet is “ganged” or wired to a GFCI outlet on the inside of the rig as it will be exposed to moisture. I would guess the kitchen is like this, too, since it’s so close to the sink. Most RV manufacturers use only one test/reset GFCI inside the rig, either in the bathroom or kitchen. The rest are connected to that with what we called “dummy outlets” which have no test/reset button. If the main one trips, they all trip.

Testing RV outlets that don’t work

The outside outlet typically has a small sticker. However, it usually comes off or people don’t know it is ganged to the inside test/reset outlet. Check your outlet that has the test/reset to see if it needs to be reset. If that outlet is working, I would recommend using a non-contact voltage tester and testing the wire coming off the outlet with the test/reset.

If the main GFCI gets tripped a few times, they go bad and don’t allow the current through. You will need to replace the GFCI outlet. Make sure you disconnect the shoreline cord and also the house batteries in case you have an inverter.

If you can get a wiring diagram, it will save a little time. But typically it will not show you specific locations of wires and where they run. That’s the fun part!

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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Bob p
8 months ago

Had the same problem in our 23’ TT, outlet went dead, looked high and low for circuit breaker problem, same for GFCI somewhere in kitchen where outlet was dead, finally went into bathroom where I found the tripped GFCI. Further investigation proved 1 GFCI serves entire trailer after trying TV and other outlets I didn’t think would be connected to the GFCI.

8 months ago

I had the same problem but it was the outlet in the basement (that worked) downstream from the GFCI in the bathroom and upstream from the outside outlet. Turns out, the receptacles use “pinchers” to connect the wires instead of screws. The cable going to the outside receptacle was not “pinched” properly in the basement receptacle.

Bob M
8 months ago

Some GFCI receptacles are made so cheap they don’t last. I’d also check to make sure where they’re hooked from one receptacle to another the wires are securely tightened or hooked together.

Tommy Molnar
8 months ago

How come the outside plugs seem to always be mounted sideways?

8 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Horizontal makes a “better” appearance. Outlet does not care about orientation.

Bob p
8 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Less wind resistance, lol

Jeff Craig
8 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

So the cover doesn’t flop open when the wind blows or you are driving, and allow moisture into the outlet.

Tommy Molnar
8 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

My cover is mounted how I would normally mount such a thing. IE, it opens ‘up’, but the plugs are sideways. I just don’t get it. It seems like that puts more stress on the plug itself when in use. Just sayin’.

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