GFCI: We hear this word a WHOLE lot in the electrical trade, but what does it mean?
The abbreviation stands for GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTER. Still stumped on why you might need them? Here’s some great facts about the mechanics and history of the GFCI.
- This handy little device shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that the current is flowing into an unintended path. That path most commonly is water, but sometimes it can be a person. GFCI’s prevent well over 1, 000 deaths per year.
- They work by measuring the current input and output to make sure there is a balance. Think of an electrical current as a ring. You want all of the walls of the ring to remain the same size. If they aren’t, you have to wonder where some of the side wall has gone. GFCI’s stop that loss of electricity before you become the target by “tripping”, or in other words breaking the current so that no electricity is flowing to the outlet.
- GFCI’s are required to be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, outdoors- basically anywhere there is water. This keeps anything from short circuiting a whole room or electrocuting you.
- This type of outlet can be installed by a licensed electrician to ground appliances, which is also a code requirement.
- The “TEST” and “RESET” buttons, as illustrated to the left, are responsible for doing exactly what is printed on them- reset and test the device.
- You should test all the GFCI’s in your home to make sure they are working properly. A handy infographic on the bottom left will walk you through how to test and rest your GFCI.