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GFCI is the abbreviated term for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. GFCI outlets are commonly referred to as the outlets with the little test and reset buttons on them.
In general, GFCI outlets are required in areas of the home where the risk of electrical shock is prevalent, including bathrooms and kitchens to name a few.
GFCI outlets first became a code requirement in 1971 and since then, accidental death by electrocution has been cut in half even though electrical usage has more than doubled. Because of their ability to save lives, GFCI requirements have expanded to include your bathroom, kitchen, garage, outdoors, crawl spaces, unfinished areas of your home and anywhere within 6’ of water.
Ground fault outlets are sometimes a source of confusion for homeowners because one GFCI outlet can provide protection and interrupt power for numerous outlets downstream. This wiring arrangement is common, so if you lose power to outlets in your home, be sure to check for tripped GFCI’s. In the 1980’s it was common to have one bathroom outlet protect the other bathrooms, the garage and all exterior outlets.
Manufactures recommend that you test your GFCI outlets monthly. To test a GFCI outlet simply push the test button on the outlet, listen for a clicking noise and then push the reset button. Testing is important because not all GFCI outlets function properly. Many are wired incorrectly, or are broken, jammed or have been recalled for defects.
Nobody ever plans on getting shocked, it just happens. Properly functioning ground fault protection is your last line of defense against electrical shock.
If you have any questions about your GFCI outlets or need them installed in your home – give us a call!