Many homeowners are not aware, but not all electrical outlets are equal. There are some that offer more protection than the typical outlet. These are known as GFCI outlets, or ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets. These outlets are designed to help protect against unnecessary electrical fires and electrical shock.

How Do GFCI Outlets Work?

These special outlets will closely monitor the amount of electrical current that is flowing into and out of the circuit. When a variation in the current is detected, the GFCI plug will automatically shut down so that the electricity will stop flowing to and from the outlet. These outlets are incredibly sensitive and it only takes a variation of around 5 milliamps of electricity to trip the circuit in less than a second.

Where Should GFCI Outlets Be Installed and Used?

GFCI outlets can be used anywhere in your home, and it doesn't hurt to have at least one installed in each room. However, the most important rooms for these outlets to be installed in are the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, garage, basement and pool room. If the room gets damp or wet, then a GFCI outlet is required by the National Electrical Code.

When Should GFCI Outlets Be Tested?

This is the main problem with most homeowners. Their GFCI won't work when they need it because they have not been testing it to ensure that it is working properly. GFCI outlets are electronic appliances just like your curling iron, dishwasher and clothes dryer. Therefore, they need to be used and tested on a regular basis in order for it to continue to function as it should.

You should test the GFCI outlet at least once a month, but it wouldn't hurt to test it more often. In addition, you should test it after it has first been installed and following any major storm, especially when there was a power outage. 

How to Test GFCI Outlets

This is really easy, and no professional assistance is necessary. All you have to do is plug an appliance into the outlet, turn it on and then press the button that says “TEST” on the outlet. If the appliance stops working, then your GFCI is in good shape. Otherwise, it is defective and will need to be replaced or repaired by a professional electrician. Now, press the button that says “RESET” to switch it back on. When you do this, the appliance should begin working again. 

Do GFCI Outlets Need to Be Professionally Installed?

These outlets are easy to install, which means most homeowners can do it on their own. However, if you aren't comfortable dealing with electricity, then hiring a qualified electrician to install the GFCI outlet(s) in your home is a wise choice.  

For any of your electrical needs contact Harrison Electric today.