GFCI outlets can keep you safe from injuries when using devices with an electrical cord.
GFCI outlets are becoming a more common sight in today’s buildings. This is with good reason, as they can help prevent certain types of electrical shocks. GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter. As the name implies, a GFCI outlet is built to stop ground-fault shocks. A ground fault occurs when electricity escapes from the wiring in a device and dives into the ground. If the electricity’s path is through the user, the resulting injuries can be severe, even deadly. Ground faults are one of the most common ways an electrocution can occur in a home.
How does a GFCI prevent ground faults? On a normal electrical outlet in the US, the electricity used by appliances flows from the hot to the neutral and ground through the appliance being plugged into the outlet. A GFCI outlet monitors this flow. If an imbalance occurs, a ground fault may be occurring. (The energy is going somewhere!) The GFCI outlet shuts off the electricity to stop the flow of electricity and prevent injury. This reaction can occur as quickly as 0.025 second.
As with many electronic devices, power surges, ants, and time can damage a GFCI outlet’s circuits. This means you should test the GFCI outlets in your home regularly to ensure they are working properly. This can be done simply by plugging a light fixture into the GFCI outlet and then turning the light on. Next, push the GFCI outlet’s test button. If the light stays on, or the reset button will not go back in, the GFCI outlet is broken. It should be replaced as soon as possible.
National codes require GFCI outlets in all new kitchens, bathrooms, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and most outdoor receptacles. As we mentioned in our recent blog on smoke detectors, If you’re just getting some small work done in one area of your home, you wouldn’t have to bring the whole building “up to code.” If you’re replacing an older outlet with a GFCI outlet, you won’t have to replace all the outlets in your home.
If you’d like to switch the electrical outlets in your home or business to GFCI outlets or install new ones, McCauley Electrical Service is ready to help. Give us a call at (678) 324-3117 to discuss the best options for you.