Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) is a residual-current device that provides important safety protections. GFCI outlet installation is a part of ensuring that your home is up to code and keeping your family safe in the event of a power surge. Asbury Electric offers GFCI outlet installation and replacement to help keep your home safe and sound.
What Are GFCI Outlets?
A GFCI outlet is a special electrical outlet installed in wet places with a greater risk of electrical shock. In most homes, that would be the bathroom, kitchen, and garage. This outlet can monitor the electricity flowing through it, so the moment it detects any issue with that electricity flow—for example, if someone starts to receive an electric shock—it will cut the power off immediately.
GFCI outlet installation is also helpful in preventing electrical fires, especially if you live in an older home. As wiring ages, its insulation can break down. That can lead to a fire if there’s an electrical surge. The GFCI outlet detects any leaks or surges of electricity, and shuts off power before that happens. This happens so quickly that it can stop an electrical shock before it has the chance to affect a person’s heartbeat.
How To Use a GFCI Outlet
Once you google an “electrician near me” and hire an electrician to complete a GFCI outlet installation, that electrician will explain how the outlet works. For the most part, it works just like any other electrical outlet. You plug in an appliance or other electrical device, and it functions as it should.
After they’ve completed a GFCI outlet installation, your technician will show you the outlet and explain how it works. Generally, if the outlet has been shut off, you simply push the reset button to turn it back on again.
Please leave the outlet off and contact an electrician if the outlet shuts off power (no matter what is plugged in), you smell burning, or other hazards exist.
Testing Your GFCI Outlet
We recommend that homeowners test each GFCI outlet in their home on a regular basis. You should also conduct a test if you have any reason to believe that something is faulty.
The test is simple to complete, and only takes a few moments. Consider doing this monthly. You should also test your GFCI outlet if you think there’s a problem with it, or any of the wiring running to it. You can do this by simply pushing the “test” button on the outside of the outlet. If your GFCI is working correctly, it will shut power off to that outlet.
Once you’ve pushed the button, plug in a small device that doesn’t use much electricity. Next, verify that the circuit has been blocked and the device doesn’t get any power. Finally, you can restore power to the outlet by simply pushing the reset button.
If the test fails, you may need a new outlet. An electrician can complete this repair quickly.
What Is a Ground Fault?
On a three-prong outlet, the top two holes are “hot” and “neutral.” Electricity flows through the hot side of the outlet into the appliance or device that is plugged into the outlet. Then, it flows back out through the neutral outlet. This current eventually returns to the breaker box where it is routed to ground. The prong on the bottom is the “ground” slot. It provides an alternate path to ground if there is a fault with your breaker box.
A ground fault may result from bad wiring, moisture, or a faulty device. In many rooms in your home, the standard three-prong outlet provides adequate protection against ground fault. With an only two-prong outlet, your home is at risk of an electrical fire, and your family member could be at risk of electrocution.
Where Do I Need a GFCI Outlet?
You need a GFCI outlet in places where there is an increased risk of electrical shock due to ground fault. It’s standard to have GFCI outlets in places where moisture could be an issue. They are also helpful in areas where power tools and appliances are used since those locations are at higher risk of a ground fault.
Most homeowners know they need GFCI in their kitchens and bathrooms. However, did you know they are also required in the following areas?
- Exterior outlets
- Near pools spas and hot tubs
- Finished and unfinished basements
- Laundry rooms
- Utility rooms
If your home doesn’t have a GFCI outlet where it should, it may not be up to code. Additionally, your homeowner’s insurance may have specific requirements about this. Consider scheduling a GFCI outlet installation to be safe and compliant.
Understanding GFCI Outlet Limitations
There are some functions that a GFCI outlet cannot perform. For example, you shouldn’t use them for refrigerators and freezers since these appliances emit electrical interference that can cause the outlets to trip even when things are safe.
Additionally, a GFCI outlet won’t work with ovens, washing machines, dryers, or other appliances that require a 240-amp outlet. Finally, any item with a heating element, such as a toaster oven, can cause your GFCI outlet to trip.
Upgrade the Outlets in Your Home Today!
Many older homes don’t have any GFCI outlets. In addition to this, your home may have rooms that are no longer up to code because they lack GFCI outlets. Fortunately, this is easy to fix. GFCI outlet repair and installation is a quick and inexpensive process. Call Asbury Electric to schedule an appointment or place a service request online.