When matters are related to electricity, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is one invention that has severely reduced the risk of electrocution and shocks since its introduction in the 1970s.
So, what is a GFCI outlet? Here’s everything you should know-
To understand how GFCI works, it is essential first to understand the meaning of ground fault. The electricity in our homes travels through insulated wires to the wall sockets, switches, and then to all our gadgets and appliances.
However, if the electricity escapes the wires due to faulty wiring or damaged cord, it often travels towards the ground to flow through another conductor. The other conductor can sometimes be human beings as well, and it could lead to shock or electrocution.
As water conducts electricity, ground faults commonly occur in and around areas with water, for instance, kitchen sinks.
GFCI outlets are installed to protect humans against electrical injuries. In the case of a ground fault, the electric flow surges due to the new conductor. GFCI outlets feature a sensor to monitor electrical flow through the wires. If there is a surge due to ground fault, the internal switch of the GFCI outlet shuts down the electric flow to that outlet.
While the GFCI outlet doesn’t eliminate the chances of a shock entirely, it offers excellent protection against prolonged shocks and electrocutions that could prove life-threatening. The standard outlets don’t feature this safety sensor.
As mentioned above, you should consider GFCI outlets for all the outlets close to the water. So, installing them in bathrooms, kitchens, pool houses, laundry rooms, etc., is a great idea. Moreover, according to NEC (National Electric Code), apart from outlets close to water, GFCI outlets are now mandatory for all 125 volts outlets spread throughout the home.
Even if the house is being renovated, constructed, or under maintenance, the temporary wirings should feature GFCI outlets.
You can consider the DIY approach if you have basic electrical wiring knowledge. However, it is ideal only to consider replacing the existing outlet with a GFCI outlet if it is a 3-prong outlet. If it is a 2-prong outlet, it indicates older wiring. In such cases, it’d be better to let a professional replace the outlet for you.
Also, after removing the outlet plate, if you see 3 or 5 wires attached to the outlet, the wiring will be more complicated. It would be best if you considered hiring a licensed electrician to replace such outlets.
GFCI outlets are an absolute must in every home. After installation, these outlets should also be regularly tested at least once a month to ensure they work as they should.
Testing a GFCI outlet is fairly straightforward. The outlet features a ‘Test’ button which should be pressed to cut off the power supply. After pressing the button, you can try using a small appliance to check whether or not the power is cut off. Finally, if everything works as it should, you can press the ‘Reset’ button to restore power.
Whether it is installing the GFCI outlets or testing them, you’ll be in safer hands by hiring a licensed electrician, such as Beeson Mechanical Service at 317-535-9338.