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All You Need to Know About GFCI Outlets

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Ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI outlets are considered smart investments for any homeowners. This type of outlet boosts the overall electrical safety in your home by offering protection against dangerous shocks. The device is engineered to break the circuit when incoming and outgoing current imbalances are detected. It’s a must-have addition if you’re worried about overheating issues or potential fire damage.

A GFCI outlet is also capable of discovering ground faults but you shouldn’t rely on it in place of a fuse because you still require overloading and short-circuit protection. Thanks to the existence of GFCI outlets, you can rest assured that electrical shock risks are severely minimized. This could be an important aspect, especially if you have an over-curious child. It’s worth making an upgrade over older electrical outlets that can pose a danger for your family.

1. How do GFCI Outlets Work?

Essentially, GFCI outlets work just like normal power outlets but the main difference lies in the additional layer of electrical protection provided. A critical aspect of the GFCI outlet is the way it can prevent electrical injury to people. It’s an important line of defense against faulty appliances, wiring issues, or anything that causes electric shocks.

The GFCI outlet comes with a similar configuration to the traditional outlet but you will notice the presence of TEST and RESET buttons. Any issue to the electrical flow circuit causes to interrupt the electricity quickly to avoid injuries from shocks. In case of an accident, you can count on this outlet to provide superior electrical safety in the home.

For example, dropping the hairdryer in the water will be quickly detected and the flow of electricity is stopped before any potential injury can happen. A painful electrical shock can still occur even if you have GFCI outlets but you can at least avoid very severe injuries or more hazardous consequences.

2. Where Should You Have GFCI Outlets?

If you’re wondering where’s the best place to add GFCI outlets, it’s good to know that you need to focus on getting them close to water. Think of areas such as the kitchen or the bathroom where a GFCI outlet is highly recommended to have installed. The additional safety can provide some peace of mind as a preventative measure but it’s also enforced by law to have GFCI outlets in your house.

Having GFCI outlets everywhere in the home should be ideal but you can focus on placing them near water before thinking of making a complete upgrade. Laundry or utility rooms can make great use of GFCI outlets considering the addition of various appliances in proximity to water. It’s also a good idea to use GFCI outlets for temporary wiring systems for certain structures or projects that don’t benefit from permanent electrical power.

3. DIY Considerations for Installing/Replacing GFCI Outlets

Is installing a GFCI outlet by yourself recommended? Assuming you have some knowledge of electrical wiring, you can handle this task in most cases but it’s usually best to leave the work to a licensed electrician. If you’re confident in your skills, GFCI outlets are quite affordable. Take a look at this great model from Anko, available on Amazon. You just have to remember the possibility of running into some difficulties when it comes to replacing the old outlet with outdated wiring that could be unsafe to mess with as a DIYer.

Depending on the attached wires, it could be very hard to handle the outlet replacement job by yourself. Having outlets with five attached wires, for example, makes it only suitable for professionals to handle. Avoiding a complicated wiring process could be worth dealing with the extra expense from the electrician.

4. How to Prevent GFCI Outlet Tripping

To prevent any potential tripping issues with your GFCI outlet, we recommend a simple maintenance routine. Just press the TEST button periodically to see whether everything works normally. It’s not unheard of for a GFCI outlet to seemingly stop working correctly. This can happen due to many reasons, including because of static electricity or lighting. If something seems wrong with the outlet, the RESET button can be activated to make the device functional again.

GFCI outlets are not failproof so you can still expect to run into occasional tripping issues. It’s recommended to check the problem with an electrician when facing frequent GFCI trips because that’s a sign of wear that means a replacement is needed. A buildup of conductive dust might eventually cause these outlets to trip. Other causes for concern include water damage to the breaker box or faulty wiring.

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