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What Are GFCI Outlets and Why You Need Them

GFCI outlet in kitchen

What Is a GFCI Outlet?

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protects us from electrical shocks in our devices at home. It is a special type of circuit breaker that can automatically shut off power directly when it detects an electrical fault.

There are several types of faults, including open circuit faults, which is due to the failure of one or more conductors, and short circuit faults. Open circuit faults are caused by joint failures of cables and overhead lines. An open circuit fault can also be caused by a broken conductor or a malfunctioning circuit breaker due to the inevitable, such as lighting, wind, or trees falling on lines.

Short circuit faults result in the flow of abnormally high currents through the equipment. If this persists, it leads to extensive damage. Fire and explosion are the typical effects of such damage because equipment can get overheated, thus causing reduced lifespan of insulation.

You can replace any outlet in your home with GFCI outlets, which will stop electrical leakages from interfering and causing electrical fires. These outlets prevent electrical shocks and ensure the safety of the home and your appliances.

Where Are GFCIs Required?

GFCI receptacles are required in bathrooms, basements, kitchens, laundry rooms, and garages – essentially, any area where water is present. NEC mandates that all countertop GFCI outlets stay within 3-6 feet of a water source. Outdoor outlets require special covers and boxes due to rain and external elements.

These outlets should be tested monthly to ensure they are working correctly. If a test reveals that the outlet is not working properly, please contact a professional to repair your equipment. The green light indicates your outlet is working correctly and is safe to use. A red light means your outlet needs attention and there is a potential problem.

What Should I Do If My Outlet Trips?

Simply conduct a self-test.

TRY IT: Push the TEST button to turn off the power to the circuit. Pushing the TEST button should cause the RESET button to pop up. Press that button, and if the GFCI won’t reset or the TEST button doesn’t pop out, there may be no power and/or a bad outlet, which you will need to replace.

GFCI trips typically occur due to circuit overload of your appliances. Defective or corroded wires can also cause it to lose power. The best solution in these situations is to unplug before further damage and call an electrician to fix it or use a different outlet temporarily in another area of your home.

You can also tell if your circuit is burnt if the color on the outlet darkens, which means it should be avoided until you can get a replacement.

If you are experiencing such problems due to damaged electrical systems or appliances, make sure to call Capital City Electrical Services for 24/7 professional help and a safe solution to your problem. We can be reached at (770) 999-9610 or through our online contact form.