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Electrical  /  December 5, 2016

Importance of GFCI Outlets

If you own an older home and are remodeling, or if you are building a new home, you have probably discussed GFCI outlets with your contractor or electrician.

If you own an older home and are remodeling, or if you are building a new home, you have probably discussed GFCI outlets with your contractor or electrician.  If you have not, it is important to ensure that your home has an adequate amount of GFCI outlets to remain up to code and ensure your home’s (and its inhabitants!) safety.  Unfamiliar with GFCI outlets?  No problem!  This Old House explains what they are and why they are important, “A ground fault happens whenever electricity escapes the confines of the wiring in an appliance, light fixture, or power tool and takes a shortcut to the ground. When that short cut is through a human, the results can be deadly. About 200 people in the U.S. alone die of ground faults each year, accounting for two-thirds of all electrocutions occurring in homes.To prevent such accidents, Charles Dalziel, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, invented the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), in 1961. Most of the time, his invention does nothing; it just monitors the difference in the current flowing into and out of a tool or appliance. But when that difference exceeds 5 milliamps, an indication that a ground fault may be occurring, the GFCI shuts off the flow in an instant — as little as .025 second.GFCIs are required by the National Electric Code in all new kitchens, bathrooms, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and most outdoor receptacles. Owners of older houses can retrofit.”

There are different kinds of GFCI outlets.  GFCI receptacles are commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms where water is present.  These are the commonly seen outlets that many homeowners are familiar with.  Additionally, GFCI circuit breakers can replace traditional circuit breakers to protect ground fault interruption to any electrical devices on that circuit.  There are also temporary GFCIs available for construction or yard work but these are not a permanent solution.  GFCIs should be tested routinely to ensure that they are working properly.  Every month it is important to push the “test” button and see if the “reset” button will pop up, if it does, it is working properly.  If it does not, it is important to contact your electrician or contractor to see if any repairs or replacements are needed.  If you are uncertain if your home has any or enough GFCI outlets, or are remodeling and want to ensure that your home is up to code and safe, consult your contractor about ensuring that your home has adequate GFCI outlets.

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