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

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.

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.

When You Need GFCI Outlets by Beverly Hills Electrician

Are you looking around your home and wondering how you can make it a little safer? One thing you can have done, that is quick, easy and effective is to have a quick electrical inspection. You will learn a great deal about the condition of your home’s electrical wiring in a single day when you hire an expert electrician. Beverly Hills homeowners will appreciate getting the opinion of someone who knows all of the ins and outs of electrical wiring. The team at The Electric Connection can help you learn more about any hidden dangers behind your walls while implementing a few improvements to make everything a little safer.

One of the things that is regularly done is the replacing of certain outlets in the home with GFCI outlets by an electrician in Beverly Hills. These outlets are the ones easily identified by the little red and blue button between the outlet holes. These are best installed anywhere water can come in contact with an electrical appliance. Think along the lines of bathroom and kitchen. These areas are where you are most likely to have water and electricity mix. Accidents happen; wouldn’t it be nice to make sure those accidents don’t have to put a life at risk?

The GFCI outlets will automatically cut the power to whatever device you may be using when the water interrupts the flow of electricity between the appliance and the main current. This can prevent an electric shock a Beverly Hills electrician explains. Other circuits on the breaker will continue to operate, only the device plugged into the involved GFCI will be shut off. Once the danger has been mitigated, you can press the reset button on the outlet and continue using the appliance. If you still have questions about the outlets, give The Electric Connection a call today.

Adding Outlets for Easier Life with an Electrician

electricon7_2-16We live a world that is very plugged in. All of gadgets that keep us updated with work, play and family require a charged battery that can only be achieved by plugging the unit into the wall. We have an electrical appliance for just about any task we have. All of this means we are very dependent on the electricity we are so lucky to have. Sometimes, our needs surpass the supply. How many times have you had to dig out an extension cord because you were short on outlets or you needed to charge your laptop while you were in an area that didn’t have an available outlet? It happens a lot. You need the services of an electrician, like those at The Electric Connection.

Additional outlets installed in your home or office can make life easier. It allows you to streamline your work space whether you are cooking dinner or working on a big project for work. You don’t have to figure out what to unplug so you can plug in another device. You can have it all with the help of an electrician in southern California. It doesn’t take a lot of work and there won’t need to be a complete remodel to add the additional outlets.

In some cases, the electrician may need to add an additional breaker to support the new outlets. This is generally when you want to run a large appliance, like a refrigerator or stove, or when you already have a number of appliances on the same breaker. This is something that will be evaluated before any electrical work is started. An additional breaker is usually not an issue. In rare cases, a panel upgrade may be necessary. This is usually for older homes that have limited breakers or outdated wiring. Give The Electric Connection a call today and get started on your way to electrical outlet freedom.

Electrician Santa Monica – Help With Finding Out How Your Home Measures Up

Over time, a home that was once top-of-the-line can find itself behind the times. While this might only be a mild concern in terms of convenience, the state of your electrical circuits can potentially be a source of trouble if they are found to be below present day recognized standards. However, an electrician in Santa Monica can certainly evaluate the state of your home’s electrical components and recommend a course of action. Generally speaking, homes that are more than 40 or 50 years are more likely to need an electrical safety evaluation.

Outlet Problems

Depending on the age of your home, you may need to have some or all of your electrical outlets replaced. Many older homes do not have updated three-prong outlets, and instead might have the older style two prong outlets. Today’s appliances require a third prong for grounding. Besides this, over time wiring can become damaged, and the demands placed on your home’s older electrical system can simply be too much for an older system to bear.

Finding Out How Your Home Measures Up

If you need an electrician in Santa Monica to help you determine the electrical safety of your home, a strong list of references and great internet reviews are a good jumping off point for locating an electrician to help you solve any of the most common problems that older homes face.

The Electric Connection is a dependable electrical contracting company that can send a knowledgeable Santa Monica Electrician to your home or business. We will be happy to help you compare your home to today’s electrical standards, examine your home thoroughly, and evaluate the ability of your electrical system to perform under typical conditions as well as any unusually high demand situations.

Visit TheElectricConnection.com for more information and to speak with someone about your home’s electrical system. If you are unsure about exactly what types of upgrades or repairs you might need, we can easily help you out.

Troubleshooting Electrical Outlets

Here’s a familiar household scenario. You put a can of catfood into the electric can opener hoping to see the can spin around and make whirring noises, but instead nothing happens. No spinning, no noise. What to do?

Is the can opener broken or is it just not getting electricity? Finding this out is the first step of troubleshooting the problem.

Step 1: Plug the can opener into a socket that is delivering power to an appliance or lamp that works. Let’s say the can now spins and whirs. You know the can opener is fine. After you’ve fed Kitty, you can turn to the electrical issue to see if it’s something that you can handle or if you need to call an electrician.

Step 2: Look at the kitchen outlet that you originally plugged into. Does it have two little buttons on it that say “Test” and “Re-set”? If so, it’s a safety outlet (GFI) for kitchens and other places where water might be nearby. Push the re-set button and see if the can opener works now. If so, the problem may be solved.

However, if you frequently have to push re-set to get this outlet to work, there’s an electrical problem that an electrician should handle. If re-set doesn’t fix it, go on to Step 3.

Step 3: Is the outlet controlled by a wall switch? If so, flip the wall switch. Does the can opener work now? If not, go on to Step 4.

Step 4: Has the circuit breaker that controls the outlet flipped off? As a first step, turn off any computers and other electronic devices that might lose data if they lose power suddenly. Next, look in the circuit breaker box for any flipped switches. Even if you don’t see one, it’s possible that one has flipped off internally without moving to the off position. Firmly flip off each circuit breaker in turn and flip it on again. Now, plug the can opener into the kitchen outlet and see if it works. If the can opener works, you’re done.

But as a note, if a particular circuit breaker repeatedly flips off, your electrical system may need to be enlarged to meet your power needs or there may be an intermittent short circuit. An electrician can tell you which it is. A short circuit is a fire hazard and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Step 5: If after these steps, the kitchen outlet still doesn’t work, it’s time to call an electrician.

If you follow these steps whenever an electric outlet or wall switch is giving you trouble, you can save on unnecessary electrical service calls.  But if it turns out that you need an electrician and you’re in L.A., give us a call at (818) 446-0888.  We’ll be happy to discuss any electrical issues with you.

Kim Hopkins

CEO, The Electric Connection

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