GFCI Outlets

GFCI receptacles are required in outdoor areas, near water sources, and at or below grade level. At HomElectrical, we offer a selection of GFCI outlets to protect against electric shock hazards and injuries from faults in electrical connections. From blank face to weather-resistant GFCI, we provide the GFI outlet types you need at competitive prices. Learn more about GFCI outlets and where they’re required.

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What is a GFCI?

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets, known as GFCI, are designed to protect users from being shocked due to current leakages. The wiring device cuts off power once a variance in current is detected between the hot wire and the neutral wire. You’ll also see these outlets referred to as ground fault interrupters (GFI).

Where do I need to have GFCI receptacle installed in my home?

The NEC, or the electrical receptacle in a bathroom space requires GFCI.

Garages and sheds: Floors meeting and below grade level, non-living areas, storage, work, and task areas.

Outdoors: Electrical devices and receptacles on the outside of a structure must be GFI protected. This is unless the receptacle is not easily accessed and/or supplied energy through a branch circuit for floor-based de-icing or snow-melting electrical devices.

Unfinished basements and crawl spaces: Non-living spaces at or below grade level must have GFCI outlets. Note that exceptions are made for receptacles that solely support a permanent fire or security system, outlets that are not easily accessible, and outlets noted for plug-in use only or on branch circuit systems.

Laundry rooms, wet bar sinks, and utility areas: Any electrical outlets placed within a six-foot radius of the sink.

Pool and spa areas: All electrical outlets, receptacles up to 20 feet away from the water source, pool cover power source, and pump receptacles.

How do I test GFI?

When issues with an electrical current are detected, the GFCI can be manually reset using the red RESET button and the black TEST button near the middle of the receptacle. The TEST button tests the safety function of the GFI. The safety function is the ability of a GFCI to trip the outlet and shut off power when there is a fault in the current.

Testing a GFI Outlet:

  • Push the RESET button on the outlet to prepare for testing.
  • Plug in any electrical appliance, such as a hair dryer. The device should be on.
  • Press the TEST button. You will hear a clicking sound, signaling that the outlet was tripped, automatically shutting power off.
  • Then press the RESET button. The light should turn back on. If the device does not come back on, your receptacle is malfunctioning and should be replaced.
  • If the receptacle stays on after pressing the TEST button and it failed, replace the GFCI as quickly as possible.

You can also test your receptacles using alternative devices:

  • GFI Outlet Testers: These inexpensive devices can also test non-GFCI-protected, standard outlets. The indicators show if the wires have reversed polarity, open neutral or open hot leads, or if the outlet has proper grounding.
  • Voltage Test/Multimeter: A multimeter or voltmeterdevice can test if power is reaching the outlet. It can also check if an outlet is grounded properly or test if wires are reversed using their probed attachment.

On top of that, GFCI circuits can still supply power to appliances or lights regardless of if the safety function is working. For this reason, it is suggested that you test your receptacle at least once a month.

Fun fact: The NEC requires that all GFI manufactured after June 2015 have self-testing and end-of-life indicator functions. Unfortunately, most local codes have not adopted this electrical safety requirement.

What can cause my GFCI outlet to trip?

The most common reasons for your GFCI device to trip are:

  • Worn out insulation
  • Conductive dust or debris
  • Water (especially with an outdoor outlet)
  • Electrical wiring deterioration
  • Mis-wiring
  • Short circuits in the wire
  • Overloaded circuit
  • Reached end-of-life

If your device does trip, simply click on the RESET button to set it back to operational. However, if it continues, please consult a certified electrician to find the cause before it leads to bigger problems.

What is the difference between the GFI outlet versus GFCI breaker?

Both devices provide the same ground fault protection. GFCI must be tested and reset at the panel while its counterpart happens at the individual wall outlet. The main difference is that all outlets wired on that circuit breaker will become ground fault interrupter receptacles.

Why would you want the outlet version when the breaker version protects the entire branch? It comes down to cost. On average, the receptacle type is 75% cheaper.

Fun fact: Any receptacle wired in series to a GFCI will also gain its safety feature.

What is the difference between a GFCI and AFCI?

While GFCIs protect against ground faults, AFCIs protect against arc faults.

An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) shuts off the flow of electricity if it detects electrical arcing. This occurs when there is a gap between the path of the current. Once an arc happens, it can lead to an electrical fire.

There are many reasons why this could happen:

  • Damage to the wire due to physical abuse or accident.
  • Natural aging of the plugs or any electrical components connected to that circuit
  • Constant exposure to heat sources.

Shop Outlet Supplies at HomElectrical:

Whether you’re working on a DIY home improvement project or are an experienced contractor, you’ll find everything you need at HomElectrical. In addition to GFCI outlets and other electrical supplies, we carry an extensive selection of LED lighting products and accessories.

To learn more, contact HomElectrical at 888.616.3532 or create an account to start getting great deals today.

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