GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter are electrical outlets normally found in damp areas. You may have seen them in kitchens, bathrooms, around pools, or even outdoors. These outlets, when interrupted, automatically shut off the power leading to the receptacle. An interruption in the electrical flow can be caused by a power outage or surge. What Is the Difference between a GFCI Receptacle & a GFI Outlet?
You should test your GFCI outlets monthly. If you are not able to check them monthly, then you should check them quarterly at minimum. [image source]
How do I know if my GFCI outlet has stopped working?
The best way to test your GFCI outlet is to press the “Test” button located on the front of the electrical receptacle. In some of the older versions of the outlet, you may notice a red “Test” button and a black “Reset” button. However, the newer models have done away with this design for a more contemporary look.
When you press the “Test” button it should make a clicking sound indicating that the circuit has tripped. This means that there is no more power leading to the electrical outlet.
Another way to test your outlet is using a GFCI outlet testing device. You just plug it into the device, press the button on the tester, and see if your outlet trips. These devices are good for testing the wiring for both GFCI and standard electrical outlets.
How often should you change your GFCI outlet?
If you press the “Test” button and the circuit does not trip, then replace it as soon as possible. If the circuit does trip, but the “Reset” button won’t reset it, then it’s also time to replace your outlet. How Do I Install A GFCI Receptacle?
If you are looking to replace your old GFCI outlet, consider purchasing a self-testing GFCI. What is a Self-Testing GFCI? Self-testing outlets have a green LED light that indicates that they are working properly. No light will indicate that there is no power being sent to the outlet, and the GFCI may be in a tripped state. And a red light indicates that it’s time to replace your GFCI device.
A malfunctioning GFCI outlet could also indicate that your circuit breaker has tripped, so make sure that you check that power is leading to the outlet first.
Last minute take-aways
You should regularly check your GFCI outlets at least every 3 months to ensure that they are working properly.
Any building 7-10 years old should have their GFCI outlets tested and replaced.
If you press the “Test” button, and the circuit does not trip, replace your GFCI outlet.
If the outlet trips, but does not reset when you press the “Reset button,” replace your GFCI outlet.
Let’s face it, things don’t last forever! Keep everyone safe, and test your GFCI outlets!