What Is a GFCI Outlet?

Posted On: August 30, 2016

Electricity is dangerous, but as we all know, it’s a necessity. However, because it is dangerous, there are a number of safety measures to help reduce the risk of things like electrical fires and electric shock. For example, fuses are meant to prevent electrical fires from occurring. But you may want to add extra protection to your home through the use of GFCI outlets.

What Does GFCI Stand For?

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. But before going into how it works, you should have a basic understanding of how a normal 120-volt outlet works. There are typically two vertical slots near the top of the outlet along with a round hold at the bottom – situated to the center. The right vertical slot is the hot slot, the left slot is the neutral slot and the hole at the bottom is the ground slot.

How a GFCI Outlets Work

If the appliance that’s plugged into the outlet is working the way it should be, then the electricity being used by the appliance should flow from the hot slot to the neutral slot.

The GFCI ensures that the flow of electricity from the hot slot to the neutral slot is normal. It monitors the amount of current that’s flowing between the two slots and trips the circuit if there is an abnormal balance. The GFCI will trip the circuit even if there’s a minor mismatch of four or five milliamps – and it reacts almost instantaneously – tripping the circuit within 1/30th of a second.

The Benefits of a GFCI Outlets

The following are the main benefits of installing a GFCI outlet:

  • Prevent electrical shock – Outlets that are near water are more prone to getting wet and electrocuting users. A GFCI outlet will prevent the user from getting shocked if the outlet is wet. This makes GFCI outlets particularly useful in bathrooms and kitchens. You may also want to install GFCI outlets on the exterior of your home as well, especially if you need outdoor outlets for any number of tools or outdoor appliances.
  • Prevent electrical fires – GFCI outlets help identify and protect against ground faults. Although your fuses should help to protect your home against the electrical fires that can result from ground faults, GFCI outlets will help provide added protection against them. You can never be too careful, after all!
  • Prevent damage to your appliances – If the appliance plugged into the outlet receives too much current, it could damage the appliance. A GFCI outlet will help protect your appliances and electronics.

How to Install a GFCI Outlet

Installing a GFCI outlet yourself isn’t recommended. You should never attempt to do repairs or installation involving electricity unless you have the proper training and experience to do so. Not only could you hurt yourself, but you could it install it improperly, which means that it won’t work as it should.

Instead, call us at Jaffe Electric to have a professional contractor come and install your GFCI outlets wherever you need them.

CALL NOW – 301.253.3778

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