Everything You Need to Know About GFCI Outlets
The term GFCI is a term thrown around often from electricians but do you actually know what it means and what the purpose of having GFCI outlets installed is? First of all, GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter and these types of outlets are used in order to protect people from electrical shock/ electrocution.
Here are some other important things to know about GFCI outlets:
What they look like
A GFCI outlet will look pretty much like any other standard outlet found in the United States. It has the same two slots and centered round hole below them but are different in that they have two buttons on them as well. One button is a test button and the other is a reset button – these buttons tend to be colored red and black but are also sometimes the same color as the rest of the outlet.
Why they’re important and how they work
GFCI outlets are important because they help to keep you and your family safe from electrical shock and burns as well as help to prevent electrical fires. These outlets have sensors inside them that actually detect any changes in electrical current to the appliance that is plugged into the outlet. This is done by comparing the flow of current to and from the appliance. If there were to be a dangerous drop in electrical current, the GFCI outlet will turn off the power to the appliance so that an electric shock cannot occur. If this happens and your appliance is turned off, it should be unplugged, reset, and plugged back in before trying to use it again.
After the GFCI is reset, if there are still problems with the circuit tripping or not resetting and your appliances are being turned off, you should consider calling a licensed electrician to safely find the root of this electrical problem.
Where they should be installed
GFCI outlets are often installed in places where water is near since electrical outlets and water are a large source of electrical shock. This means that they should be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor living areas, pool sheds, garages etc. It is also important to know that it is required by electrical code to have ground fault circuit interrupter outlets installed wherever there is water nearby to ensure the safety of you and your family.
How to install them
GFCI outlets can be installed by first turning the power off at the main circuit panel and removing the old outlet. The wires can be disconnected by clipping them close to the outlet. Then, the new GFCI outlet can be attached and installed. This is a very vague description of how to install these outlets because it really should not be done yourself.
The most efficient and safest way to install ground fault circuit interrupter outlets in your home is by calling a licensed electrician to come complete the job. Being a professional, a licensed electrician will know exactly how to replace your old outlets and install your new GFCI outlets properly and safely.
How and when to test them
As stated above, these GFCI outlets have two buttons on them: a test button and a reset button. The reset button is used when the outlet turns off power when a breaker is tripped and needs to be reactivated. The test button is used simply to test that he outlet is safe and working properly. It is recommended for them to be tested at least once a month, after new outlets are installed, after any type of electrical power outage, and as recommended by the manufacturer of the outlet.
To test your GFCI outlets, it is safest and easiest to plug in a lamp to the outlet. Turn the lamp on and press the black test button, if the lamp turn off that means that the outlet is working properly. If the lamp does not turn off, you should call a licensed electrician to come analyze the electrical problem.
Kinds of GFCI
There are 3 types of GFCI’s that can be installed in your home to ensure safety from electrical shocks: a receptacle, a circuit breaker, and portable GFCIs. The receptacle is the basic outlet that can be installed in place of older outlets found throughout your home. The GFCI circuit breakers are installed inside panel boxes to give selected circuits protection. Finally, a portable GFCI can be plugged into any outlets that are not already ground fault circuit interrupters.