The what, where and why of the GFCI Outlet.
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt. These electrical safety devices are commonly found in kitchens, garages and bathrooms at the outlets. You can tell a GFI outlet by a test and reset button located on the faceplate of the outlet. The appearance can vary but they all function in the same manner.
In regular sized homes today in Arizona there are typically 4 GFI circuits including 2 in the kitchen, 1 in a bathroom (controlling all bathrooms) and one in the garage (for the garage and exterior). In older homes there may only be one reset in the garage controlling all of the bathroom and outside circuits. Only one outlet in the circuit needs to have a special GFI outlet and the rest of the circuit between that outlet and the electrical panel will be GFI protected.
The fancy term means that if the outlet senses something improperly grounded it shuts off. This can happen when you come into contact with water and an electrical source. For those of you old enough to remember it means you can no longer electrocute someone by dropping an electrical device into the tub while they are bathing.
GFCI’s can be installed in older homes that do not have these outlets. A licensed electrician is recommended to do the installation as they know where to properly place the outlets for maximum protection.
The test buttons on GFCI’s are there for a reason!! The manufacturers of these devices recommend that they be tested monthly. If the circuit will not shut off or if it will not reset then replacement is recommended for added safety.