About GFI Electrical Outlets
Let’s say your teen is using an electric drill outside and standing with bare feet in a puddle. Not a good idea. Electricity takes the path of least resistance, which just might be from the drill along arms and legs and into the puddle. If the drill were plugged into an ordinary outlet, this could be a fatal accident.
In recent years, the National Electric Code has included requirements for special outlets where such accidents could happen: pools, garages, kitchens, bathrooms, near spas, and in some other outdoor areas. These special outlets are called “GFIs” or “GFCIs” (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters). A GFI detects that the current in an appliance is no longer flowing in its proper circuit. It shuts off the current within milliseconds. In the case of our teen, if the drill were plugged into a GFI outlet, electrocution would be avoided — a life saved.
GFIs look different from ordinary outlets. They have two buttons labeled “Test” and “Reset.” You can check that a GFI is working by pressing “Test.” It should shut off current to the outlet so that the outlet no longer provides power. After the test, you can restore current to the outlet by pressing “Reset.” GFIs have a limited lifespan so test your GFIs once a month. Click here for additional tips for GFIs.
Check that your kitchens, bathrooms, garage, and outdoor areas are equipped with working GFIs. (Refrigerators are incompatible with GFI outlets and should not be plugged into one.) If your home doesn’t have GFI outlets or they are no longer working, give The Electric Connection in Los Angeles a call for a free over-the-phone- estimate or ask for a Free Home Safety Inspection. GFIs are an inexpensive investment in your family’s safety.
GFI Electrical Outlets FAQs
GFI, or GFCI, stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. This device is used to protect from electric shocks from potentials faults in the electrical devices used.
A GFI outlet should be placed in areas that require electricity but are also near moisture such as bathrooms or kitchens.
A GFI compares the current being input to the current being output. If there is a difference in current this means there could be a leakage somewhere. The GFI then cuts off the power to the leaking device which reduces the chance of getting shocked.
There is a great resource about troubleshooting a GFCI outlet at thecircuitdetective.com. It provides a handy chart outlining all the different reasons a GFCI cannot be reset.
A ground fault occurs when the “hot” wire touches the ground wire of a junction box or appliance. Large amounts of energy are forced through the fuse or circuit breaker cause it to blow or trip.