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.