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Ground-Fault-Circuit-Interrupters-(GFCIs)-Featured-Image Mike Holmes

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

By Mike Holmes

Mike’s Advice / Home Safety & Maintenance

Friday, June 15th, 2018 @ 2:51am
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A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI is an electrical safety device designed to trip or cut power to electrical circuits by monitoring the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral wiring. GFCIs are not to be confused with a fuses or circuits breakers.

If a GFCI detects a difference between the current flowing from hot to neutral wiring, the GFCI will trip and cut the supply of electricity.

GFCIs are available as breakers or receptacles. Homeowners can tell which receptacles are GFCI protected because they will have a test button and a reset button in the middle of the outlet.

“If a GFCI detects a difference between the current flowing from hot to neutral wiring, the GFCI will trip and cut the supply of electricity.”

WHAT IS A GROUND FAULT?

A “ground-fault” is an electrical current leak caused by an electrical disturbance, such as a bare wire inside an appliance touching a metal base. If a person were to touch the appliance with one hand and a grounded metal object (like a water faucet) with the other they would complete the loop and get an electric shock.

However, if the appliance is plugged into a GFCI protected outlet, the GFCI senses the change in current and immediately shuts off the power to the circuit, preventing the electrical leak to use the person as a path towards a grounded surface. It essentially interrupts the circuit caused by the ground-fault.

In some cases, one GFCI receptacle can protect all of the outlets downstream. This is found, for example, in bathrooms where one bathroom would have a GFCI receptacle and the other bathrooms would have regular receptacles. When wired correctly all the bathroom receptacles would be GFCI protected.

GFCIs were introduced as code in the early 1980s to prevent fatal shocks. A GFCI protected outlet must be installed on outdoor outlets, bathrooms outlets, kitchen counters, hot tubs-anywhere there is the potential for water and electricity to come into contact.

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