A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a special kind of outlet that shuts off the power the second it detects a ground fault, protecting your family or employees from a potentially fatal electrical shock.
A GFCI looks like any other outlet, except for its test and reset buttons. This inexpensive but powerful device monitors the flow of electricity, making sure there’s a perfect balance between hot and neutral current.
If a hot and neutral wire touches each other, it spurs a ground fault. A surge of power travels through the malfunctioning appliance or fixture. Since electricity always travels toward the ground, if you are in the way during a ground fault you can become an inadvertent conductor.
Enter the GFCI, which trips the circuit before a ground current can harm you. Once it’s safe to use the outlet again, you can reactivate your power with the push of a button. Before ground fault current interrupters became widespread—in residences, commercial spaces, and construction sites—some 800 people died in the US each year as a result of errant electrical current. GFCI outlets have helped reduce that number to about 200.
Because of their effectiveness, the National Electric Code (NEC) mandates GFCI’s be installed at construction sites and throughout all new builds and remodels in:
- Crawl Spaces
- Laundry areas
- Outdoor power sources
- Underwater pool and hot tub lighting
- Utility Sinks
- Unfinished Basements
- Wet bars
Certain appliances, like your refrigerator or freezer, shouldn’t be plugged into a GFCI outlet because they can trip without you knowing and cause your food to spoil.
- Have a new space that needs GFCI outlets installed?
- Need to determine why a GFCI outlet keeps tripping?
- Want to have GFCI outlets put in your older home to bring it up to code and make your loved ones safer?
- Want a licensed, experienced electrician to check your older GFCI outlets to see if they’re working properly?
Hedgehog Electric can get the job done, quickly and correctly.
WHAT CAUSES A GROUND FAULT?
There are a number of reasons why your GFCI might trip your breaker. In some cases, it’s a sign your GFCI outlets (which have an average lifespan of 10 years) are defective or no longer working due to issues like wear or rodent damage. In other cases, a ground fault is to blame.
Here are just a few scenarios that might spur a ground fault.
- An appliance or power tool is no longer working safely and needs repair or replacement
- There’s a buildup of conductive dust
- You accidentally drop an appliance, like a hairdryer, into the sink
- Water has leaked into your electrical box
You should never take electricity lightly. Contact us today to have us equip your home or commercial space with new GFCI outlets. We also encourage you to give us a call if your regular outlets need to be changed from outdated two-pronged models to current three-pronged outlets. Our team of expert electricians can bring you up to code, and help you rest easier knowing the people you care about are safe.