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Everything You Need to Know About GFCIs

Everything You Need to Know About GFCIs

A ground fault is when electricity leaks from the wiring that is inside an appliance such as an appliance or power tool. Usually when this escaping of electricity occurs, it runs through the ground. However, the electricity has the ability to shoot through humans, and this makes for a dangerous situation. Just in the United States, 300 people die annually as a result of ground faults and account for two thirds of all electrocutions in homes.

Chances are, you live in a home where electricity flows through circuits and cords and is received by devices, appliances and fixtures. This is an everyday, invisible process that many of us take for granted. The truth is that there is an inherent danger with having electricity be such an integral part of your life! The outlets in your home may look unassuming, but the danger lies in the fact that a typical outlet doesn’t sense the amount of electricity flowing through it, or where that electricity is going.  GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets are safety receptacles that can actually detect if something is awry with the flow of your electricity, especially when the electrical devices they are powering come into contact with water.

  • Where GFCI Installation Should Occur:
    GFCIs are most commonly installed in rooms such as kitchens, bathrooms, and garages. This is because spaces like these often see a lot of electrical devices being used, and there is a greater risk of unsafe, wet conditions. When considering having these outlets installed or upgrading your existing ones, err on the side of caution. This is especially the case for garages, because many homeowners use their power tools in the garage, and these rooms can be poorly sealed from a wet outdoor climate.
  • GFCI Troubleshooting
    If your GFCI outlet keeps tripping, you will have to figure out why. Unplug everything from the outlet and reset it. Then begin testing the devices that were plugged into it, one at a time. Whichever device continues to trip the GFCI is your problem, which means that device may be unsafe to use. If you think there is a malfunction within the actual GFCI outlet, an electrician will be needed to further examine it.
  • Resetting Your GFCI Outlet
    If you don’t think your GFCI outlet is working properly, you may need to test it out. These receptacles are equipped with two buttons that make testing relatively simple. Keep in mind that events such as lightning storms could create a power surge and cause your GFCI to need resetting. First, remove all plugged in devices. Then press the reset button and plug in a small device such as a night light. The night light should be powered  and glowing. Press the test button and observe if the light bulb turns off. Press the reset button again and ensure it comes back on. If the night light didn’t respond as described, this is an easy way to tell something is wrong with your GFCI receptacle.

There are a multitude of ways to keep your house safe, and installing and maintaining GFCIs is one of them. Electrical deaths in the home can be prevented simply by keeping up with your GFCIs and knowing when to call an electrician. If you are still not confident that your GFCIs are working, call AmeriServ to check out your Metro Atlanta home.


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