Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)

As home inspectors, one of the categories that we report on is safety. With safety as the primary objective, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are strategically placed in designated areas within the electrical system. These devices offer more than just ordinary electrical outlets, they provide protection against electric shock. They are designed to quickly detect and interrupt the electrical current in the event of a ground fault, which is a situation where electricity travels through an unintended path, such as through a person’s body, instead of following its intended path through an electrical circuit.

How GFCI’s Work

GFCIs work by constantly monitoring the electrical current flowing through a circuit. If the GFCI detects that the current is not flowing correctly, it will immediately shut off the power to that circuit, preventing any electrical shock or injury. This process happens in a fraction of a second, making GFCIs incredibly effective at preventing electrical accidents.

Types And Where Should They Be Installed

There are two main types of GFCIs: circuit breaker GFCIs and receptacle GFCIs. Circuit breaker GFCIs are installed in the main electrical panel and protect the entire circuit. They are typically used in outdoor circuits or for large appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines. Receptacle GFCIs, on the other hand, are installed in individual outlets and protect the devices plugged into those outlets. They are commonly used in bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas where electrical devices are likely to come into contact with water.

GFCIs are required by the National Electrical Code in several locations, including bathrooms, kitchens, garages, crawl spaces, laundry and utility sinks, outdoor areas, and other areas where electrical devices are likely to come into contact with water.

Test For Proper Operation

To ensure that your GFCIs are working properly, it is important to test them regularly. To test a GFCI, simply press the “test” button on the device. This should cause the power to the outlet or circuit to shut off. To restore power, simply press the “reset” button on the device. If the GFCI does not shut off power when the test button is pressed, or if it does not restore power when the reset button is pressed, the device may be faulty and should be replaced.

In conclusion, GFCIs are an important safety feature that can protect you and your family from electrical shock. They are required in many locations by the National Electrical Code and should be installed in other areas around your home as well. Testing your GFCIs regularly is important to ensure that they are working properly and providing the protection you need.

If you find that you have areas that are not protected by a GFCI outlet, it is a simple upgrade for an experienced DIY. You can find step-by-step instructions here. If you don’t feel confident in upgrading or replacing yourself, I recommend you hire a licensed electrician for the job.

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