electrician holding open outdoor gfci cover next to open junction box

What Is A GFCI Outlet?

electrician holding open outdoor gfci cover next to open junction boxIt’s almost impossible to imagine how the world as we know it today would look like without electricity. We definitely wouldn’t be able to do half of the things we so easily take for granted – such as taking a hot shower in winter or enjoying an iced tea during summer.

Electricity is without doubt one of mankind’s greatest discoveries but it can have devastating effects if not handled properly. Getting shocked or electrocuted is a likely risk. However, the advent of GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) has greatly reduced these risks.

So What Exactly Are GFCI Outlets?
Before we take a look at GFCI Outlets, an understanding of ground faults is necessary. The term “ground fault” refers to the phenomenon in which electrical current bypasses the intended path, usually due to a broken cord or poor insulation, and flows instead through an unintended conductor down to the ground. If it so happens that the unintended “conductor” is a living being, that could lead to severe shocks (or worse, death from electrocution).

This is where GFCIs come in.

What does a GFCI plug do?

A ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is designed solely to protect people from electrical shocks. When there is an electrical imbalance, a GFCI outlet will automatically trip, protecting you from potential harm. Although GCFIs can also sense ground faults and cut off power, this doesn’t mean you should use them instead of fuses because they won’t prevent short circuits or overloads.

The GFCI is built right into the wall outlet and monitors the current in a circuit in real time, allowing it to detect any changes that could be dangerous. So, if you’re using an electric clipper and it slips from your hand and falls into the bathtub while it’s full of water, the GFCI outlet automatically shuts off the power to prevent any further electrical shock. This is what makes GFCI Outlets different from the average electrical outlet you find in your home – they don’t have such sensors.

Where Should You Install GFCI Outlets In Your Home?

Having GFCI outlets installed is crucial in areas where there is a high risk of electrical shock due to proximity to water. Kitchens, shower rooms, workshops, basements, garages, swimming pools, jacuzzis, fixtures, and anywhere else water and electricity might come into contact all require GFCI protection.

There was a time when GFCI outlets were only required near water, but now they must be installed in all 125-volt, single-phase outlets. Therefore, all dwellings must have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) installed, as per the NEC. It’s also a good idea to install GFCI Outlets on temporary wiring systems used during maintenance work or building renovations.

Installing A GFCI Outlet In Your Home

While you can easily follow DIY instructions for installing a GFCI outlet, if you want peace of mind that your home is safe from electrical fires, it is best to hire a licensed electrician who can inspect your system and make sure it complies with all applicable regulations.

The Electric Connection offers reasonably priced, high-quality GFCI outlets for residential installation. If you want to learn more, please get in touch with us here.

hand plugging appliance into outlet

What To Do When Your Outlets Aren’t Working

hand plugging appliance into outletHaving a faulty outlet can be hazardous. The start of a house fire can be a faulty outlet. And as an electrical problem it’s not one that you can simply DIY and call it a day.

When noticed, the best reaction would be to call a professional immediately to troubleshoot it and fixed properly. However, before you proceed to call an electrician, here are a few things you could do when your outlets aren’t working properly.

  • Safety First: Be sure to turn off all the lights in the area and unplug any appliances there as well. Make sure you check out the state of each of the appliances. The fault may not lie with the outlet if your appliances are also faulty. Plus, you’d need to check to make sure that the outlet hasn’t ruined the appliances in the house.
  • Test Other Outlets: Is the fault in just a specific spot or a general area? You’d need to do a thorough check to ensure that it’s just a specific spot. You can test out other appliances on the outlet to pinpoint where the exact fault is from. If the fault is from just one outlet, then it’s most likely an isolated problem. If it’s in a more generalized area, then that’s more complicated. Either way, you need to call a professional to have it properly checked and fixed.
  • Check Your Circuit Breaker: One of the most common reasons why your outlet may not be working is a tripped circuit breaker. Your circuit breaker is like the motherboard of all the electricity flowing in your house. When the current becomes too much, the circuit breaker protects the circuits by tripping it or cutting it off to avoid overheating. So check out your circuit breaker and try resetting it.
  • Loose or Burned out Outlets: Outlets, like all other things, tend to go bad after a certain period. A loose outlet wouldn’t work as effectively as it should and can also start house fires. A burned-out outlet would seem quite warm or look like it’s burned. Don’t forget to check out your fuse box as well. These can cause serious fire hazards and should be fixed as soon as possible by a professional.
  • See a Professional: Electrical problems are dangerous and should not be taken likely. Irrespective of how little or big the problem may seem, you should leave it to experienced hands or experts to avoid further complications. Although some problems can be handled with a quick fix, they may not be as simple as it looks. If you do need a professional and you are in the Los Angeles area, give The Electric Connection a call.

It’s easy to overlook a faulty outlet or a blown fuse or to postpone fixing a loose outlet because it works, in a way. However, those aren’t solutions to the problem and can only make it worse. Make sure you check all your appliances, replace any faulty ones and get a faulty outlet properly checked and fixed.


white electrical outlet on blue wall

What To Do When You Have A Loose Outlet

white electrical outlet on blue wallNo matter how it seems, fixing a loose outlet is not a job to be taken likely. It’s more than just screwing a few nuts into the wall and calling it a day. Faulty outlets can result in electrical shocks and can even go on to cause house fires.

It’s also quite easy to overlook the problem initially as it may not seem like such a big deal. We guarantee you, it is. You should call for a repair  when you notice a loose outlet. Sometimes, the signs may not be as clear as day. If your cover plate doesn’t lay flat on the wall, if it shakes or the plugs fall out, that can be a clear indication that you have a loose outlet. If you do want a quick fix before you call a professional then you should follow the next steps with precision and caution.

  • Turn Off The Power:

Doing this would go a long way in your ensuring your safety and is a top priority. To be completely safe, turn off the main breaker. It’s far safer to carry this out during the day when it’s a lot brighter to avoid making mistakes due to the lack of a sufficient light source. Be sure to use a tester to be completely sure that there is no power.

  • Unscrew The Outlet:

Using a screwdriver, unscrew the screws holding the cover plate in place to expose the outlet. You’d need to see what’s going on behind the cover plate so it’s best to take it off. Gently remove your outlet. Be careful not to cut any wires when pulling it out and if you do, you’d need the services of a professional immediately. Do not continue with the rest of the instructions.

  • Add Electrical Spacers:

If your outlet is loose because the electrical box is too far back into the wall, adding outlet shims can bridge the gap between the screws and the electrical box. The number of shims you use depends on how far your electrical box is from the screws. You can also tighten your screws if they seem loose. Use your screwdriver to screw in the nuts tightly. Give it a little shake to be sure it’s nice and firm. Fix your outlet and tighten the screws. You can place more shims if the outlet still seems loose. Otherwise, proceed to fix the cover plate as well, and then turn on your breaker.

If your outlet still seems loose, do not proceed any further. The wisest and safest option would be to call a professional electrician to ensure that your outlet is properly fixed to avoid additional damages that could occur otherwise.

We are always here to help.

electrician holding open outdoor gfci cover next to open junction box

GFCI Outlet Won’t Reset

electrician holding open outdoor gfci cover next to open junction boxYou will find the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, also sometimes known as a GFCI outlet, wherever there’s electricity. This built-in breaker is usually found in places like the bathroom, kitchen, or any other area prone to shorting and trips when it detects a ground fault or a short. They are reliable for the use of electricity, but may sometimes fail.

In such cases, it can easily be reset or retested with a button, but what happens when the GFCI outlet just won’t reset?

What to Do?

Don’t panic if the GCFI won’t reset. Keep reading to find out how to fix the problem:

  • Figure out the cause

It may be tricky to figure why the GFCI Outlet won’t reset, but ultimately, confirm if the problem is from the circuit or the outlet. It may be best to let an electrician do this for you.

You can check if the other outlets have power flowing through them by using a voltage tester. If you realize that there’s power flowing through the other outlets, then the problem is from that singular outlet. However, if you notice that none of the lights or outlets have power flowing through, then it is a circuit problem. You could also try unplugging whatever is plugged into the GFCI outlet and see if you can finally reset.

  • Check Circuits

Once you find that some lights or outlets aren’t working too, then head for the electrical panel, usually found in the laundry room, garage, or basement. When at the electrical panel, look out for the circuit breaker and check that none is out of order. If any is, then they’re tripped and you can reset. If it keeps happening, then it is likely an overload issue, and the circuit isn’t powerful enough.

  • Assess Problem

If the breaker is reset and the GFCI trips again, and often, it might be a leak and you should call an electrician as soon as possible. Before the electrician arrives, here are a few things you can assess:

  1. Check if the reset button pops out. If it doesn’t, maybe the outlet is defective, or you did not push hard enough.
  2. Check if the reset button stays in or pops out when you plug something in and put it on. If it pops out, it could be incorrect wiring or a ground fault.
  3. If the connected devices still work when the reset button pops out, then it may be a circuit interrupter problem (rare) or reversed line and load problem.
  4. If the lights or plugged devices work; if they don’t, then maybe the GFI is defective, miswired, or not receiving up to 120 volts.
  • Check for Faulty Connections

Your GFCI Outlet may not reset because of bad wiring; there may be a loose connection in form of loose terminal screws, loose wires at the connectors, and loose stab-in connections.

If all of this is too sophisticated for you, then it is safest to call a licensed electrician to check out everything and fix the problem. Electricity is risky and should not be toyed with or handled by an amateur. Our technicians at the Electric Connection will handle it all for you. Book an appointment now!

electrician holding open outdoor gfci cover next to open junction box

Where are GFCI Outlets Required?

electrician holding open outdoor gfci cover next to open junction boxGFCIs or Ground-fault circuit interrupters, safety devices installed on electrical outlets, otherwise called electrical receptacles. You can also find them on extension cords, circuit breakers, and other supported electrical appliances.

GFCIs pick up fluctuations in the electrical current of your electrical equipment, then switch off that particular appliance to reduce the electric shock that could be transferred into your body. Most GFCI protective outlets can be found in areas of the home where there’s both electricity and water.

What Parts Of Your Home Should Have GFCI Outlets?

The recommendation of the National Electrical Code (NEC) on GFCI requirements for home units in Article 210.8 is that GFCI outlets be installed for all 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-amp receptacles in the locations below:

  • Your bathrooms

    Your bathroom is a high risk-level area as water is usually everywhere. All outlets here must be GFCI proof.

  • Your laundry and utility sinks.

    You have your washing units (washing machine and dryer) which are powered by electricity. So, GFCI protection is necessary for your laundry room where the receptacles are within six feet of the exterior edge of your sink.

  • Crawl spaces

    Crawl places are uncompleted areas in your building that are below grade level. They also require GFCI protection, especially if the spaces double as storage space.

  • Your garages and outdoor buildings

    Your garage is on a floor below grade level, meaning it isn’t a living area. However, it needs GFCI protection, even though it is limited to a storage or temporary work area.

    Other outdoor receptacles/outlets, except for the ones you have limited access to, should also be GFCI-protected. For example, areas powered by a fixed branch circuit for electric snow-melting.

  • Pool and spa rooms

    There are pumps, fountains, and other water source in your pool area and spa room. All outlets within 20 feet of your pool, water fountains, and spa should be GFCI-proof.

  • Uncompleted basements

    Just like crawl spaces, uncompleted basements are areas of your basement that are unoccupied or lived in. They are used as storage space, or sometimes as working areas.

    But the receptacles in these areas still require GFCI protection to prevent damage to appliances caused by moisture. The only exception to this rule for basement GFCI protection is when the receptacles of the system powering equipment are permanently fixed or not easily accessible. For example, your burglar alarm and fire alarm systems.

  • Your kitchen

    All electrical outlets in your kitchen, especially your countertop areas, should have GFCI protection. Receptacles with six feet of your sink or near your dishwasher should also be GFCI-protected.

  • Although the NEC is the highest authority for creating and implementing electrical rules and regulations, consult with your local building authority on the best GFCI requirements or recommendations.

    Why You Need An Electrical Contractor For Your GFCI outlets Installation

    There are specific requirements and codes of conduct guiding the installation of electric outlets or anything electric in your home. Trying to fix GFCIs in your receptacles without a professional background in electrical engineering isn’t wise.

    You can damage the outlets, or do it wrong and that can affect your electrical connection in the future. You might also end up wasting resources such as materials and your time. Contacting a reliable electrical contractor such as the Electric Connection will ensure you’re following the right GFCI requirements for your home.

Do I Need A Permit To Replace an Electrical Outlet?

outlet stops workingThis question would often come up if you are considering doing some electrical work yourself. While DIY is great and even cost-effective for some tasks around the home, electrical works are very different and some rules apply.

There are several reasons you might need to replace an electrical outlet. From outlets not being installed where you need them to having faulty outlets are all good reasons. However, the first thing to remember is that electrical works are best left to licensed and professional electricians. If you have no experience or skills to perform the work yourself, then do not attempt it at all.

You will require a permit to replace an electrical outlet. Read on to see how this works.

The role of a permit in electrical projects

Permits and building codes are designed to protect you and your home by ensuring that a project is done safely and correctly. An inspection which is the last part of any project involving a permit helps to enhance this safety by spotting mistakes and preventing extensive repairs.

When it comes to electrical work and electrical permits for homeowners going DIY, it’s important to note the following;

  • Only the owner and occupant of a home can obtain a permit to do the work themselves. This means as a homeowner looking to DIY you cannot perform any electrical services on a house about to be sold, on rent, lease, or exchange. Only a professional electrician can pull a permit and perform the electrical service in all situations.

When is an electrical permit required?

As a landlord or homeowner, you may not require a permit to replace electrical appliances or perform maintenance on existing installations. Other electrical works that usually require a permit include;

  • Install or alter any permanent wiring or electrical device
  • Installing a new electrical outlet or light fixture
  • Install additional wiring in your home.
  • Installation of a receptacle for a garage-door opener
  • Converting a fuse box to a circuit breaker
  • Installing or altering low-voltage systems such as security alarms

You can always call the local building department in your area to clarify any uncertainty on what electrical projects require a permit.

What do I need to do to get an electrical permit?

An electrical permit is only issued by your local building department. After confirming that your electrical project requires a permit that can be obtained by you, the first step is to complete an application. The permit application is usually offered in-office and some jurisdictions offer it online or via fax.

Next comes the permit fee, which depends on the complexity of your project. After the permit is issued you can perform the electrical work. An inspection should also be scheduled as soon as possible to complete the process.

Electrical codes, restrictions, and rules.

Part of the reasons why hiring a professional electrician for your electrical needs is safer and preferable to DIY is their knowledge of current electrical codes. Before you attempt any electrical work, get updated on the dos and don’ts of the NEC.

What to Do When Your Outlet Stops Working

outlet stops workingWhen one or more outlets in the home suddenly stop working it’s easy to assume the worst. Before you panic, it’s good to know that there are some things you can try to solve the problem. However, when these don’t work, be sure to call in the pros.

Tips to troubleshoot your electrical outlet

  • Confirm the problem
    When one outlet stops working out of the blue, confirm that there is a problem. Plug the same appliance to other outlets in the home and another appliance to the suspected outlet and working ones. This helps you identify the faulty outlets and their location. After this is done, unplug all appliances from the dead outlets and mark them for easy identification later.
  • Check the circuit breakers
    Next is to check for a tripped breaker or a blown fuse. The circuit breakers or fuses can be found in the electric panel. The electric panel can be found by following the electrical wires from outside the home to the point where they enter. It is usually installed in the garage, utility room, or basement.

    Check the panel for any breaker whose switch is not in line with the others. Tripped breakers can be reset by taking the switch to an OFF position and then back ON again. Make sure you hear a click in the OFF position before switching to the ON position.

    If the breaker trips again, there is no need to overdo it. Simply call an electrician and avoid using the outlet.

  • GFCIs Check
    The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets are those strange-looking outlets you see in some areas of the home where there is a higher risk of electric shock. GCFIs protect you from electric shocks by shutting off the power when a leak or unusual electric surge is detected.

    GFCI protected outlets are often labeled to help you point them out, but it is also common for those labels to fall off after some time. Test and reset the GFCI by pressing the reset button. If the GFCI refuses to reset and just keeps tripping each time you press it, stop the action and call a professional at The Electric Connection.

  • Electrical outlet tester
    An electrical outlet tester is like an easy way to troubleshoot your faulty or dysfunctioning outlet. Plug the tester into the outlet and read the light patterns. The tester easily shows if the outlet is mis-wired or improperly grounded.

Safety tips before troubleshooting

  • Ensure that there is no bare wiring from the outlet or the appliance you plug into the outlet.
  • Don’t force the wrong sized or shaped plug into the outlet.
  • Don’t overload your outlets.
  • If the outlet sparks, shut it off and call an electrician.

Should I Install a Wall Outlet Safe?

not a wall outlet safeThink about it; a wall outlet safe actually looks like a wall outlet. So no one would think to look there for your valuables. A conventional safe, however, is a different matter. It stands out as an easy target for a burglar or friendly neighborhood thief. You may prefer to do without the stress of having a large showy safe. Therefore, it’s no surprise that wall outlet safes are getting more popular.

How does a wall outlet safe work?

Like we stated above, a wall outlet safe looks like a regular wall outlet. It is made of cheap plastic and is easily available online or in local retail stores.

It is simple to install and safe because there is NO electricity involved. The outlet safe should be installed like a normal electrical outlet in strategic parts of the room. Once installed, you can open the safe to stuff your cash, jewelry, or other portable valuables and close the outlet safe right back. Another good news is, you can have as many as you like or need.

Steps to install your wall outlet safe

Tools needed are drywall saw, pencil, and the wall outlet safe kit.

Unpack the kit and read any instructions that follow.

Use the outlet template to trace out an outline on the wall in your chosen location. Make sure the distance from the floor to the outlet is the same as the other real outlets in the room.

Use the drywall saw or any saw that comes with the kit to cut around the outline, creating a space for the outlet safe.

Place the outlet safe in the wall and make sure the flanges on the sides lock against the drywall; precisely at its front. This holds the safe in the correct position.

Next, close the safe by fitting the cover plate with the fake receptacle over the opening. Push the screw into the center of the safe from behind.

There will be a key in the kit that you would use at this time to turn the screw clockwise until it locks into place.

If your wall outlet safe is in an open location, consider plugging in an appliance or dummy charger to make the safe or outlet look as real as other working outlets.

You can reach out to us at the Electric Connection anytime for advice on choosing the right wall outlets safe or any electrical needs.

How to Test a 240V Circuit

test 240v240V circuits often serve heavy-duty appliances in the home like the dryer, AC, ovens, and water heater. When there is a problem with the circuit or electrical outlet, it becomes dangerous to use them. As a homeowner, a few basic tricks can help you assess your electrical components in the home and make informed decisions about them.

Read on to know how to test a 240V circuit.
A typical 240V outlet carries three slots or openings. There are two vertical or horizontal slots placed side by side with a middle third slot below the first two. The two slots that lie side by side carry 120V each. The third slot connects the outlet to the ground.

You will need a multimeter to complete the next steps. A multimeter measures the amount of volts running through a circuit. To use the multimeter, turn the dial up to 240V and attach the probes appropriately. Ensure that the red and black probes are completely plugged into the correct slots in the multimeter and are not damaged. Avoid touching the metal tips of the probes to avoid an electric shock.

With the multimeter inserted, check the reading displayed on it. Both slots should read 120V each and a total of 240V. If this isn’t the case, then one or both circuits may be faulty.

Reset the multimeter to 120V and switch the probes. Insert the red probe in any of the two vertical slots and the black probe in the ground slot. The multimeter should read 120V; otherwise, that circuit is defective. Repeat this procedure for the second vertical slot.
After testing the circuit and confirming any defect, the best action is to call an electrician to replace, repair, or provide other valid solutions. Practice basic precautions to avoid damage to your circuits or electrical hazards. These include switching off outlets when not in use and keeping them away from water.

Upgrading to GFCI Outlets by Beverly Hills Electrician

If your home was built before 1971, you will want to take a quick look around your home to see what kind of outlets you have. Technology and electric safety standards are constantly improving. With every improvement, you can feel a little safer and secure in your home when it comes to the electrical wiring and other components. After 1971, new home construction standards required the use of GFCI outlets in some areas where water was a risk factor to electrical appliances. If your home does not have these, it is a good idea to have an electrician in Beverly Hills update the outdated outlets. The team at The Electric Connection can take care of this for you.

Your garage and unfinished basements is another area where GFCI outlets should be used, especially if they are prone to even mild flooding. A ground fault circuit interrupter can protect you from an electric shock if you happen to be using an appliance and it comes into contact with water explains a Beverly Hills electrician. The very second the electrical current is interrupted, the outlet cuts off power. This can prevent you from getting shocked. Once the danger has been removed, you can simply reset the outlet and it will work fine again.

If you have an outdoor pool area or hot tub, all your pumps and vacuums should be plugged into a GFCI outlet. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that these outlets were required in kitchen areas. Considering how many appliances are in today’s kitchens, it is a good idea to add the extra protection of the GFCI says an electrician. Beverly Hills homeowners can take a look around their own homes and then jot down where they would like the outlets installed. One call to The Electric Connection to have the newer, safer outlets installed will give you that extra safety you need.