You may not know what a GFCI outlet is, but you’ve almost certainly seen one before. They resemble a standard double set of three-prong outlets with the differently sized left and right slots. However, between the sets of outlets are located two small buttons, often colored red and yellow. One button is the RESET button, the other is the TEST button.
What do GFCI outlets do, and why should you install them in your home if you don’t already have them? We will explain in this post, but for the moment we want to strongly encourage you to schedule this work—especially if your home has old two-prong, non-grounded outlets. GFCI outlets are important safety precautions to protect you and your family from injury.
For the electrical installation work in Lynwood, WA to replace old outlets, call the company Puget Sound has trusted since 1977: G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.
GFCI Outlets Shield You from Electrical Shocks
The letters GFCI stand for ground-fault circuit interrupter. These outlets act like fuses and circuit breakers in many ways: in case of an increase in power, a circuit opens and stops the flow of current. However, ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets are not fuses. The purpose of a fuse is to prevent fire hazards due to surges overpowering the electrical system: they protect the electrical system, not people specifically. However, a GFCI outlet does exist to protect people, turning the current off when it detects electricity is flowing into a human instead of an appliance.
Here’s how it works:
The two slots on an outlet are the “hot” side (the smaller slot) and the “neutral” side (the larger slot). Electricity from the outlet flows in a loop, running to an appliance plugged into it from the hot side and then returning to the neutral side. A GFCI outlet monitors this flow to detect any imbalance. If it picks up a change of even 4 or 5 milliamps, this means electricity from the hot side is entering something other than the appliance attached to it… and most likely, it’s a person. The ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet immediate trips a circuit (the RESET button will pop out) and cuts off the power to prevent any further harm. To reset the outlet, press the RESET button down again.
The amount of power that modern appliances use makes GFCI outlets mandatory to protect you and others in your house from injury due to high-voltage shocks when an appliance malfunctions. These outlets can cut the power rapidly enough that you won’t feel much more than the slight sting you would get from static electricity when something goes wrong.
Our team at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. has handled putting in many GFCI outlets in homes. We can assist with the electrical installation services in Lynwood, WA to update your home’s power system for safety. Call us today for an appointment.