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What's The Deal With Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters?

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Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are intended to help prevent electrocution. If a person starts to receive an electrical shock, the ground fault circuit interrupters can sense this and automatically cut the power to that specific electrical outlet before the person can be seriously injured or even killed. If your home needs GFCIs put in or tested, contact a licensed professional, especially if you do not know exactly what you are doing or are uncomfortable doing it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

What is a Ground Fault?

According to the National Electrical Code, a “ground fault is a conducting connection between any electric conductor and any conducting material that is grounded or that may become grounded. Electricity always wants to find a path to the ground. In a ground fault, electricity has found a path to ground, but it is a path the electricity was never intended to be on, such as through a person’s body.” Due to the potential risk of shock, a GFCI is used to protect people.

GFCIs are normally installed in places where electrical circuits can come in contact with a water source such as the following:

  • Kitchens  – near the sink, dishwasher, coffee pot or as a general rule any outlet that is near a countertop that is connected to the sink.
  • Bathrooms – near the sink and bathtub/shower, and near the toilet. Most outlets in a bathroom should be GFCIs.
  • Washer and Dryer Room – If you have a separate washer and dryer room, both appliances should use ground fault circuit interrupters. If your washer and dryer are located in another room in the home, you would need a GFCI there as well.
  • Garage – It’s a good idea to have all GFCI outlets in your garage, especially if you use power tools.
  • Outside – Outdoor outlets, especially outlets near a swimming pool.

Many products come with built in GFCIs, such as hair dryers, curling irons, and electric shavers, just to name a few.

How Does a GFCI Work?

The GFCI senses the transformation in the quantity of electricity that is flowing into a circuit compared to what is flowing out, even in small amounts such as 4 milliamps. The GFCI responds quickly (less than one/tenth of a second) to shut off (or trip the circuit shutting off the power flow).

When Should You Test GFCIs?

GFCIs need to be checked every month to make sure they are working correctly; the last thing you want is to get a shock not realizing that the GFCI is not working properly. Seasonal power tools and outdoor equipment should be checked before you use them.

If you need information, any questions answered, or someone to install or check your GFCIs, then contact Hammond Services. We are more than happy to assist you.


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