What’s a GFCI Outlet?

What is a GFCI Outlet?

A GFCI outlet is a special type of safety outlet that will protect people from electrical shock. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. They are inexpensive and easy to install and are required by the NEC or National Electrical Code. Why are these outlets so important?

Why are GFCI Outlets Important?

GFCI outlets are very important because they prevent electrocution. They are a fast-acting system designed to turn off electrical power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. The GFCI breaker compares the amount of current going to and returning from equipment along the circuit conductors and will immediately cut off the power if there is a disruption.

Where do GFCI Outlets Belong?

Per the National Electric Code, GFCI outlets belong in all damp or wet locations such as but not limited to:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Outdoors
  • Garage
  • Utility rooms
  • Laundry rooms
  • Crawlspaces
  • Basements
  • Wetbars
  • Pool and spas

How Do I Test a GFCI?

GFCI outlets have a special test button on the front of the outlet. Once pressed, the button will pop out and the power should be turned off at the receptacle. To engage the outlet, the other button, typically labeled reset, will need to be pressed. GFCIs are also found at the actual breaker panel in some homes and the process is a little different. There is still a button on the breaker which will cause the breaker to trip or move. The breaker oftentimes will need to be reset by moving the breaker all the way off and then pushed back to the on position. The regular checking of these devices is recommended and could save someone’s life.

Can I Install a GFCI Myself

Typically, we always recommend having an electrician perform this type of work. However, if the individual is handy enough, this is a relatively easy project for your do-it-yourselfer. Always ensure the power going to the outlet has been turned off at the breaker panel and verified with an electrical tester. Items you will need:

  • New GFCI outlet & cover
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flashlight
  • Electrical outlet wiring tester (to ensure proper wiring configuration)

We hope you have found this blog post helpful regarding GFCIs and their benefits and uses. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or to learn more about GFCIs and your home.

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