GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter, serves a crucial purpose: they trip a circuit when a fault or current leakage is detected. Since their inclusion in the NEC (National Electrical Code) back in 1971, GFCIs have significantly reduced the frequency of house fires and electrical shocks.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, the following facts apply
They cut power within a few milliseconds after a ground fault, Over 25% of survey respondents who tested receptacles found one to be non-functional.
Arcing faults are a primary cause of house fires in the U.S., resulting in millions of dollars in property damage as well as hundreds of fatalities. Read on to learn how a GFCI from Full Moon Lighting and Electrical LLC will protect your Savannah-area home.
What Are GFCIs?
A GFCI is a component that turns off power when current flows along the wrong path, such as through a person or a body of water. The protection is integrated into special receptacles and circuit breakers for installation in home electrical systems. Protection is crucial for outlets in high-moisture areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
What is a Ground Fault?
Ground faults occur when an electrical path is inadvertently created between a grounded surface and a power source. In most instances, they occur when devices are damaged and internal parts aren’t protected from accidental contact with a user.
The absence of a GFCI increases the risk of shock, burns, and serious injury. If a person’s body creates a path for current, they can be hurt or even killed. Protect your family by scheduling GFCI outlet upgrades by a licensed electrician.
How Will this Protect Families and Homes?
Ground fault circuit interrupters protect users from severe electrical shock by monitoring current flow and comparing readings. Because they detect ground faults, they work to reduce the risk of fire by impeding the flow of current.
How a GFCI Works
In functional appliances, current flows from the hot wires to the neutral wires, and a GFCI monitors that flow. If there’s any discrepancy in the current flow, the GFCI trips the circuit breaker and cuts the current.
In the Brunswick, St. Simons, and St. Mary’s areas, as well as in the rest of the country, homes are equipped with 120V electrical outlets. The left and slightly larger slots are neutral, while the right slot is hot, and the center slot is the ground. If the current flow is improperly directed, users may experience electrical shocks.
A GFCI senses these occurrences because some of the currents don’t flow from hot to neutral as expected. When this happens, the component trips the breaker and cuts the power immediately.
How Can Local Homeowners Test GFCI Function?
The most effective way to assess a GFCI’s functionality is to follow the maker’s instructions. However, these steps will likely work.
- Plug in a lamp and turn it on.
- Press the test button on the GFCI.
Did the lamp turn off? If it did, simply press the red reset button and you’ll be good to go when the light comes back on. If it doesn’t, the ground fault circuit interrupter has been improperly installed or it isn’t working. GFCIs should be tested at least once per month. Call right away to schedule electrical services, and one of our electricians will correct the issue by fixing the wiring or replacing the faulty GFCI.
Where Should GFCIs Be Installed?
As mentioned above, ground fault circuit interrupters should be installed in areas prone to moisture. In most area homes, owners use GFCIs in outdoor or indoor areas where there’s a risk of contact between water and an electrical outlet.
GFCIs are often used in renovation areas, wet locations, and other risky areas, as they cut the flow of current within less than a second, thereby reducing the risk of electrocution. The National Electrical Code has required the use of GFCIs in the following areas for years.
- Exterior areas
- Unfinished basements
- Utility sinks
Homeowners should consider the use of portable protection when using electric tools such as lawn mowers, saws, drills, or sanders.
Can a Do-It-Yourselfer Install a GFCI?
Absolutely not! The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends that ground fault circuit interrupters be installed by a qualified licensed electrician. Portable GFCI units don’t require tools for installation, so they offer homeowners great flexibility in the use of non-protected receptacles.
Do you still have questions about GFCI usage and installation? We’re here to answer them. Request additional information online or call today to schedule a no-obligation consultation.