How GFCI Receptacles Keep You Safe

By shakir_williams on 02/19/2018

gfci outlet with no face plate outlet

Did you know that home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, nearly 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage? A ground fault circuit interrupter is designed to monitor all electricity flowing to and from the outlet, in order to protect you and your home from shock hazards and electrical fires. If the GFCI detects any imbalances in the current, it immediately trips the circuit, and all electricity is cut off to the outlet. 

outdoor gfci outlet

GFCI outlet safety features

Ground faults can be caused by a number reasons, such as power surges, sudden power outages, frayed wiring or cables, and old insulation. It is called a ground fault because the electrical current is literally traveling through ground, or matter.

Any electrical currents that come out of the live wire will circle back to the neutral wire to close the circuit. A GFCI expects all electrical flow to go out of the hot wire and back to neutral on a continuous cycle.

If for whatever reason, the electrical current is interrupted and caused to flow on an unwanted path, the GFCI outlet outlet will immediately shut off the power. If a person comes in the path of a live electrical current, they can be severely electrocuted.

bathroom gfci receptacle

Due to the nature of GFCI outlets, they are commonly installed in wet or damp areas, where electrical products could come in contact with water. NEC requires that GFCI outlets be installed in all:

  • crawl spaces
  • unfinished basements
  • bathrooms
  • laundry room
  • garages
  • kitchens
  • outdoor areas

Find out what updates have been made to the 2017 National Electrical Codebathroom gfci outlet

Always make sure your GFCI outlets are working properly

animated electrical plug in outlet

In order to test to see if your GFCI outlets are working properly, you can follow these easy steps:

  1. Push the Reset button on the GFCI outlet to prepare for testing
  2. Plug in any appliance. We suggest using a night light
  3. If you use a night light, make sure the light is on
  4. Press the Test button. The light should turn off
  5. Then press the Reset button
  6. The light should turn back on.

If during the test, the light did not turn off, then your GFCI outlet is not working properly, and it may be time to replace it. 

animated electricity going through two lightbulbs

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