Have you ever wondered what GFCI circuits are and where they’re needed? GFCI circuits are an essential safety measure that can help save lives by preventing electrical shocks.
Keep reading to learn more about GFCI circuits and how to find out where you need one.
Electrical components and water don’t mix.
GFCI circuits are designed to protect people from the harmful effects of electricity, like shocks and electrocution, by automatically turning off the power before it reaches a dangerous level.
You should have GFCI circuit breakers or GFCI outlets installed in any area with water near electrical components; these areas include bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor spas/hot tubs, etc. These appliances should also have GFCIs installed inside them as well.
What is a GFCI Circuit
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is an important safety measure that can help save lives.
These circuits are designed to protect people from the harmful effects of electricity, like shocks and electrocution, by automatically turning off the power before it reaches a dangerous level.
How Does a GFCI Work
GFCIs work by monitoring both current and voltage coming into an outlet or appliance; if they sense that anything is wrong with either of these components, they’ll shut off the power before it reaches a dangerous level.
Basically, GFCI outlets exist to protect people from being shocked.
This is different from a typical fuse or circuit breaker. These protect a structure from an electrical fire.
Unlike a home’s fuse, the GFCI is built right into the outlet itself.
When you plug in an appliance, such as a hairdryer, the GFCI outlet monitors the amount of power going to the device. If you accidentally drop the appliance into a sink full of water, the GFCI detects the interruption in current and cuts the power … and possibly saves your life.
If you have GFCI circuits in your home, they should be tested at least once per year to ensure that everything is working correctly and no problems are present.
Where Should GFCIs be Installed?
GFCI receptacles should be installed in any area with water near electrical components; these areas include bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor spas/hot tubs, laundry rooms, and more.
A good rule of thumb – if you have wall outlets that are likely to get wet, install a GFCI.
The 2020 National Electrical Code requires arc-fault circuit interrupter and ground-fault circuit interrupter protection in new and renovated homes: https://t.co/wKnRM8O8h0 #electricalsafety #NationalElectricalSafetyMonth #NESM #AFCI #GFCI pic.twitter.com/B1ldiGMSZ4â€” ESFI (@ESFIdotorg) April 27, 2020
Most codes require GFCI protection for appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers, and hot water heaters.
When Should GFCIs be Tested/Inspected?
GFCI circuits should be inspected at least once per year to ensure that everything is working correctly and no problems are present. GFCIs can save a life – even if you don’t have them in your home, you might want to think about installing GFCI electrical outlets or GFCI breakers for the protection of others who visit your house.
How Do You Test a GFCI?
To test a GFCI outlet, look at its face. Right between the two slots where you plugin in cords, there are two buttons labeled “TEST” and “RESET.”
To test your GFCI, press the reset button to start testing.
You will hear an audible click that trips and shuts off the electricity within seconds.
Confirm power has been cut off by trying to turn on another appliance or power tool plugged into it; if nothing happens, then all is well!
Test With a GFCI Tester
If you don’t feel comfortable testing a GFCI yourself, there are GFCI testers available at your local hardware store.
A GFCI outlet tester is a simple electrical device with three LED lights to indicate various test results. The tester can tell you whether the outlet is wired correctly and identify problems, like open ground or reversed polarity. It also has a button that causes the GFCI to trip to check the safety function; this button works the same way as pressing the test button in the method above.
A GFCI outlet tester is inexpensive and can test standard and GFCIs, making it a handy tool for maintaining electrical safety when fixing something around the home.
Avoiding Nuisance Trips
Nuisance GFCI trips are an annoying but common occurrence.
When a GFCI outlet keeps tripping, there must be a reason.
Don’t just reset the GFCI; you should also investigate the cause of the trip.
Ground faults occur when an electrical current finds an unintended path to the ground. The usual culprits for electrical faults include:
- worn insulation
- conductive dust
- other “soft grounds.”
Ground faults cause more than 80% of equipment short circuits. 90% of the time, this is because the insulation on wires and cables has deteriorated.
If a human becomes the unintended path, they can get an electric shock. This is sometimes called electrocution. A current as low as 75 mA can cause ventricular fibrillation, which means that the heart stops pumping, and you will have a cardiac arrest.
Another name for a ground fault is leakage current.
Leakage can cause an electric circuit to trip. If you find that your circuit is tripping, it can be hard to find the problem. You might have to spend a lot of time looking for it. But if many pieces of equipment are plugged into a single electrical outlet, and there’s leakage current, then the cumulative amount could be in the order of milliamps.
If you’ve been wondering where to install a GFCI outlet, or how they work and what to do if there’s an issue with one in your home, the information provided above should have answered all of these questions.
If not, contact us – we offer electrical services that can help identify potential problems before they turn into more significant issues down the line. We also provide free estimates for any jobs our team completes, so you know exactly what to expect!