Electrical Services in The Tampa Bay Area

GFCI Safety: All you need to Know

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. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), GFCIs have cut the number of home electrocutions in half since their introduction in the 1970s.

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 unintentional path between the source 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.

GFCI Installation

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 can be identified by its “TEST” and “RESET” button located in the middle of the outlet. When the reset button is pressed on, power can freely flow to the outlet. Pressing the TEST button interrupts the current and shuts down the circuit to the outlet. The TEST button will automatically trigger when the GFCI detects that a decrease in current has unbalanced the flow of power (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

  • Dishwasher outlets

  • 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 their 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:

  1. 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.

  2. If you press the TEST button and the GFCI outlet trips but it will not RESET, you should consult a professional electrician right away.

  3. 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 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!


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