Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are electrical outlets that can provide a safer means for supplying electricity to your plugged-in devices. They are able to turn off the power quickly if they detect an electrical current leakage or ground fault. Because they continuously monitor the flow of electricity, they can reduce the risk of electrical shock in your home.
How GFCI Outlets Work
Knowing how these outlets work will help you to see why they are a safer option when compared to other outlet types. The current flowing between the circuit’s neutral and hot wires should be equal. A GFCI monitors this to ensure that there are no irregularities.
A GFCI can detect any imbalances, such as rainwater getting into an outside receptacle and interrupting the flow of current. In this case, the GFCI can turn off the power even when there is no device connected to the outlet. On the other hand, water is a great conductor of electricity, and electricity always wants to go into the ground. So, if you were using a power tool outside in the rain, the current could seek to go through your body to reach the ground.
Fortunately, the GFCI senses the redirection of the current flow and shuts the power off before you feel the shock. That is why these are known as “ground faults;” the current alters its route to the receptacle’s ground and starts to take a different path to the ground, which may or may not include a human body.
An imbalance as low as four to six milliamperes is enough to cause the quick trip. This then shuts the power off to the outlet. It only takes mere milliseconds to shut down the outlet and its connected devices. When the power shuts off, this can prevent several issues, including electrical shocks and fatal electrocution.
Why Get GFCI Outlets
If you only have standard outlets in your home, there are several reasons why you might consider installing GFCI outlets. The first is electrical safety, especially in places where there is an increased risk of an electrical incident. For example, places with a lot of water, such as your bathroom, kitchen, or outdoor patio, should have GFCI outlets for added safety.
These outlets protect against ground faults. This can happen when water and the wires come into contact with each other. However, it is also possible if any wires come into contact with damaged insulation.
Some building regulations and electrical codes require GFCI outlets in certain areas of your home. You should talk to a local professional to see what areas of your home should have these.
GFCI outlets are ideal in homes with pets and children since they can prevent electrical shock. If your pet or child tries to put something in it, the outlet protects against a shock.
Where to Place GFCI Outlets
There are several areas around your home where you should consider this type of outlet. Kitchens and bathrooms should have them due to the risk of water exposure. This is especially important if you have an outlet near your sinks.
Any outdoor living spaces should have GFCI outlets since there is a risk of water getting into an outlet whenever it rains. Spaces like a three-season room should also have these since they are not as protected against the elements as the other indoor areas of your home.
Your basement is susceptible to water damage and flooding, so you might consider installing GFCI outlets down there. This is especially important if you have your laundry room in the basement.
Your workshop area or garage can benefit from this type of outlet. This is because there is usually a water source nearby, such as a utility sink. Another benefit would be to power the tools that you often use in these areas.
You should put these outlets on any wet bar area in your home. The same is true for hot tubs and pools. The outlet that you plug your hot tub into definitely needs to be this type of outlet. You should also use one for your pool filter.
Signs of a Bad GFCI Outlet
If you already have some GFCI outlets in your home, you want to know when it is time to call an electrician to test and replace them. There are certain signs that tell you that your outlet is likely going bad.
Take a look at the outlet to see if the indicator light is on because if it is not, your outlet is bad. You should also consider that there is a problem if the test button does not work or if the operation of the outlet is not consistent. In some cases, there might be visible damage to the outlet, such as scorch marks or cracks. If any of these signs are present, immediately stop using the outlet.
If you notice that your outlet is tripping a lot, it is telling you that there is a problem. Eventually, it will likely stop supplying power at all. You might also notice that you cannot reset your outlet after it trips. This means that you need a new one.
You should also think about the age of your outlet. If it is 10 to 15 years old, you should have a professional come and do an inspection. This is the usual life span of these types of outlets.
Installing GFCI Outlets
You want a professional to come and perform the installation for GFCI outlets. They will not only know the codes and regulations that they have to follow, but they also fully understand the installation protocol and safety standards that are necessary.
They will follow a basic installation setup to make sure that they do the entire job properly. The process begins with turning off the power. Once they do this, they will verify the lack of electrical current using a voltage tester.
Once they gather their tools and the manufacturer’s instructions, it is time to identify the load and line terminals. They will then label the wires before removing the old outlet. This makes it easier to reconnect them properly. They then connect the wires and use wire nuts to connect multiple wires when this is necessary.
Lastly, they will install the outlet and ensure that it is securely in place. After securing the outlet, it is time to turn the power back on. Once they complete these steps, they will test the GFCI to confirm that it is working properly. They will press the Test and Reset buttons before plugging anything into the outlet.
GFCI and Electrical Experts
You can see that having GFCI outlets in Shakopee can help your electrical system in many ways. We have been serving the area since 2017 to help homeowners with an array of electrical needs. Once we attend to the GFCI outlets in your home, we can help with other things, such as electrical panels, car charging and upgrading your current electrical grid. You can also get our assistance when you want to upgrade the indoor and outdoor lighting for your home. Contact Finch Home Solutions today to learn more about GFCI outlets.