What are GFCI Outlets?
December 23, 2021
A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet refers to an outlet designed to prevent electrocution by detecting electrical current imbalances and shutting down any power coming into the outlet. A GFCI looks like a standard three-prong outlet, but it also has a reset button and test button. Since these outlets can prevent electrical damage and shocks, they’re essential to the safety of homes and businesses. Find out more about GFCI outlets and if you need GFCI outlet replacement services by reviewing this post.
What Is a Ground Fault?
Understanding GFCI outlets starts with understanding ground faults. A ground fault refers to an accidental or intentional conducting connection between potentially grounded or already grounded conducting material and an electric conductor. When a ground fault occurs, electricity will take a path it’s not supposed to go on as it travels to the ground. Since ground faults can cause electricity to flow through a person while it searches for the fastest path to the ground, they can be very dangerous to electricians and homeowners.
How Do GFCI Outlets Work?
GFCI outlets attempt to stop ground faults from occurring through the use of a circuit interrupter. This circuit interrupter acts much like a circuit breaker, as it shuts off power to devices connected to the outlet and the outlet itself whenever it detects a ground fault. A GFCI detects ground faults by comparing how much electricity flows into the outlet and how much flows out of it. Once the GFCI senses an issue, it reacts in milliseconds and shuts down the circuit.
Where Do You Need GFCI Outlets?
Since water is an electrical conductor and can cause a ground fault, it’s critical an outlet can shut itself down when exposed to water. A GFCI outlet is designed to do exactly that, immediately cutting power to and from the outlet whenever the outlet is exposed to water. As a result, GFCI outlets are essential in areas of a home where water could potentially come in contact with an outlet. Some of the most common locations for GFCI outlets in homes include:
- Laundry rooms
Alongside the need for GFCI outlets inside the home, they’re also essential for any outlets outdoors, as these outlets are much more likely to be exposed to water. For example, if you have an outlet installed outside for exterior lighting or a hot tub, you’ll need a GFCI outlet to prevent electrical shocks.
Should I Test My GFCI Outlet?
Testing a GFCI outlet is easy and something you should do periodically to ensure it’s working appropriately. You can read more here in our guide: Do Outlets Go Bad? Review the following steps below to properly test your GFCI outlets:
- Press the GFCI Outlet’s test button: A GFCI outlet will have two slots where you can plug in cords, and two rectangular buttons, with one labeled “TEST” and the other labeled “RESET.” Press the “TEST” button to begin your test. Once you’ve pressed this button, it should make a snapping noise, indicating the power has been cut off to the outlet.
- Ensure the GFCI Outlet isn’t receiving power: Next, check if the power has really been shut off by plugging in a device or appliance, such as a lamp, and seeing if you can turn it on. If the device won’t turn on, everything is working appropriately, as power isn’t flowing into the outlet. However, if the device does turn on, you’ll need to contact an electrician to fix it as soon as possible.
- Press the reset button: When your test shows the GFCI is working properly, you’ll simply need to press the “RESET” button. By pressing this button, you’ll turn back on the power to your outlet.
What Do I Do If My Home Doesn’t Have Any GFCI Outlets?
If your home doesn’t have any GFCI outlets, it’s a major safety concern, especially in areas where outlets are likely to come in contact with water. Due to the safety concerns, it’s a good idea to contact an electrician who can install GFCI outlets throughout your home.
Choose Bonney for GFCI Outlet Updates and Replacement Services in Sacramento and Concord
If you’re in need of GFCI outlet replacement services in Sacramento or Concord, California, Bonney can help. Our trained electricians provide several outlet update services and can easily install GFCI outlets for you if your home is missing them. Alongside GFCI installation services, we can repair malfunctioning GFCIs and test them to ensure they’re working as intended. Besides our GFCI outlet update and replacement services, we offer several other electrical services, such as electric vehicle charging station, LED lighting, and outdoor lighting installation.
Learn more about our GFCI installation services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact us.