WHAT ARE GFCI OUTLETS?
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These are safety devices used to monitor the amount of energy flowing from a power source and can be present in a breaker or an outlet. By stopping the power flowing through it, GFCIs can prevent serious, even fatal electric shocks, and fire hazards. As reported by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), since the 1970’s there have been 50% fewer home electrocutions due to the introduction of GFCIs.
WHY ARE GFCIS IMPORTANT?
GFCIs receptacles and breakers are crucial to home safety. They are especially important in areas where water is present such as kitchens, bathrooms, pools, gardens, and garages. By detecting shorts, overloads, and ground faults (an abnormal path between the origin of a current and a grounded surface), a functional GFCI will protect someone from a serious electric shock or electrocution, and protect homes from electrical hazards by cutting off the power. GFCI’s are also useful for protecting electric devices from harm. Since GFCIs are so important, they are one of the first items home inspectors check when reviewing older and newer homes on the market. Without working GFCIs, a house cannot be sold.
According to the ESFI, a GFCI can be installed at an affordable price and is definitely worth investing in for you and your family's safety. Please make sure to consult an electrician before making these GFCI installations even if you’re doing the installation yourself. There are times when GFCI issues can be solved with a simple replacement, but there are many times where there are underlying issues that caused your GFCI to fail, and troubleshooting by a professional may be required. Also as a precaution, always make sure all power is off when performing these installs.
How can you tell if you have GFCI outlets in your home or not? Inspect your outlets! A GFCI outlet is an outlet with “TEST” and “RESET” buttons located in the middle of the outlet. When turned on, the reset button allows power to flow to the outlet without issues. Pushing the TEST button interrupts the flow of energy and deactivates the electrical circuit to the outlet. Then the TEST button activates as soon as the GFCI recognizes that the current has decreased and that it has unbalanced the energy flow (which means a current could be flowing where it shouldn't be).
ARE GFCI OUTLETS OPTIONAL?
No, GFCI outlets are required by the National Electrical Code for receptacles where a water source is present, including all wet or damp locations.
GFCI protection is required for all 15-amp, 20-amp, and 125-volt receptacles in these areas:
All areas of the bathroom
All areas in the garage
Outdoor areas under eaves of roofs
All outdoor outlets for dwellings
Unfinished portions of basements
Receptacles within 6 feet of the top inside edge of sink bowl and receptacles within 6 feet of the outside edge of a bathtub or shower stall.
Areas where heating, AC, and refrigeration equipment are installed
Receptacles for kitchen countertop surfaces
All areas of boathouses
All areas of laundry rooms
Circuits powering pool equipment
Dock power, boat lifts, and shore power
HOW LONG DO GFCIS LAST?
GFCI outlets last between 7-10 years but can sometimes fail after only 5 years. Since GFCIs are one of the most important safety features in your home, it’s important to check your GFCIs monthly and every home should have its GFCIs tested and replaced if necessary every 7-10 years. Surges can commonly cause GFCIs to fail, especially those caused by lightning strikes, a common occurrence here in Florida. In areas with high-lightning strike activity, the failure rate for GFCI circuit breakers is around 57%.
HOW TO TEST YOUR GFCI OUTLET:
Find the TEST button and press it. If the GFCI outlet trips, it is working fine (if it trips you will hear a pop or click noise and the RESET button will pop out). If the outlet doesn’t trip, then you should consult a professional electrician.
If you press the TEST button and the GFCI outlet trips but it will not RESET, you should consult a professional electrician right away.
If there is power to the GFCI outlet, but it’s not supplying power to whatever you plug into it, you should consult a professional electrician.
Although this is how most GFCIs work, some models have an LED indicator that indicates the end of life or if GFCI has tripped.
KEEP YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY SAFE!
GFCIs are a necessary safety precaution in every home. Make sure all your GFCIs are working as they should, and if they aren’t, please call Tru-Line Electric, your favorite New Port Richey professional electrician for any installations or repairs you may need! We’re here for you when you need us.
Call (727) 308-6680 today or contact us online to learn more about our GFCI outlet installation services in Palm Harbor!