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What is GFCI?
What is GFCI?
blog-detone
May 31,2024

What is GFCI?

Electricity is unquestionably a powerful and volatile element, and the electrical engineers and electricians who design and install electrical systems take the risks very seriously. One essential safety feature that plays a critical role in protecting buildings, electronics, appliances, and – most importantly – the people, is the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet.

In this brief article brought to you by Mr. Electric, we introduce you to the basics of GFCI outlets. If you need a certified electrician for anything from a quick repair to a smart outlet installation, the uniformed professionals at Mr. Electric are ready to help. Call or message us today to connect with a member of our team.

What is a GFCI Outlet?

A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet is a special type of electrical outlet designed to protect people from electrical shocks and prevent electrical fires.

Unlike standard outlets, GFCI outlets have built-in sensors that monitor the flow of electricity through the circuit. When they detect any imbalance or deviation from the expected electrical flow – which is typically indicative of a ground fault – they quickly stop the flow of electricity, cutting off power to the outlet within milliseconds.

How do GFCI Outlets Work?

GFCI outlets continuously measure the current flowing into the circuit and compare it with the current returning from the circuit. Under normal conditions, the current going in and out should be equal.

However, if a difference (even as small as 4-6 milliamps) is detected, it indicates that some of the current is escaping, possibly through a human body to the ground. The GFCI outlet responds by tripping the circuit, effectively shutting off power to prevent injury or damage.

Why GFCI Outlets Are Mandatory

Modern electrical codes and regulations often require GFCI outlets in specific areas of homes and businesses. Using GFCI outlets ensures compliance with these safety standards and reduces the risk of legal issues.

The rules are there for good reason. The primary function of GFCI outlets is to protect people from severe or fatal electric shocks. This is particularly important in areas where the risk of electrical accidents is higher, such as kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoor spaces.

By detecting ground faults early and cutting off the power, GFCI outlets help prevent the electrical arcs and sparks that can lead to fires. They also protect sensitive electronic devices and appliances from damage due to electrical faults. This can help extend the lifespan of your electronics and reduce the cost of repairs or replacements.

Where GFCI Outlets are Necessary

GFCI outlets should be installed in areas where the risk of electric shock is higher due to the presence of water or damp conditions. Common locations include:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry Rooms
  • Garages and Basements
  • Outdoor Areas

Installing GFCI outlets is a necessary step in maximizing electrical safety, but it's just as important to regularly test them and ensure they are functioning correctly. Most GFCI outlets have a built-in "Test" button. Pressing this button should cause the outlet to trip and cut off the power. If the outlet does not trip, it may be faulty and should be replaced.

Hire Certified Electricians Today

Mr. Electric is proud to have a dedicated team of uniformed, regularly trained, and certified electricians on standby to respond to requests for urgent electrical repair service. If you need an emergency electrical repair, then call Mr. Electric to arrange a dispatch to your home or business for as soon as possible.

We are also happy to schedule a convenient appointment for an electrical outlet replacement or more sophisticated work. Our courteous team is on standby to take your call or message today.

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