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GFCI Outlets: Basics Every Homeowner Needs to Know


GFCI Outlets are an important part of keeping your home’s electrical system safe. Known by their signature small central buttons, GFCI outlets have been found in Kansas City homes for decades. Today, we will take a closer look at why these outlets important, where they belong in your home, and how they work. If you have any questions or concerns about the outlets in your home, we are here to help.

What do GFCI outlets do?

GFCI outlets make your home safer by reducing the risk of shock or electrocution. Basically, they sense if the currents running through the wires of your home somehow escape their proper path. If the outlet senses a leak (also called a “fault”), it automatically trips the outlet and stops any voltage to the circuit.

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, and that’s exactly what they do: interrupt current flow caused by electrical faults or leaks. You may still receive a small shock, but they are very minimal. Since their introduction in the 1970s, death by electrocution has been vastly reduced.

Why do GFCI outlets trip?

There are two main reasons that GFCI outlets trip. First, their primary function is to stop the outlet when they sense any discrepancy from the typical electrical flow in your wires. Worn out wiring insulation or moisture are common culprits and deserve expert attention. Secondly, most GCFI outlets also have a maximum current capacity, so they will trip if they are overloaded. Both functions protect you from shock.

Sometimes, your GFCII outlet may trip for no apparent reason. It could be picking up some static electricity or lightning from a nearby storm.

How do I reset my GFCI outlet?

If it trips, simply press the reset button in the middle of the outlet to get it going again. If the outlet keeps tripping, you may have an electrical problem or the outlet may need to be replaced. Call us to have a licensed electrician take a look.

Where should you have GFCI outlets?

Since water is such a good conductor of electricity, GFCI outlets belong in several key areas of your home including kitchens, bathrooms, wet bars, laundry rooms, garages, and unfinished basements. All outlets within 6 feet of water sources such as sinks, water heaters, and washing machines should be GCFI protected. Exterior outlets and those located near the kitchen countertops also need to be GFCI.

You can also install outlets with permanent child protection features or even USB ports or smart-home capabilities. For all your electrical needs, give A.B. May a call. We will take a look at the unique features of your home and help you understand the options you have to get your home working smarter and safer for you.