Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) were first introduced in Canada over 40 years ago. When these GFCI breakers detect an electrical current flowing through unintentional paths such as water or people, they shut off electricity to that outlet.
GFCI breakers monitor an imbalance of current between the grounded and ungrounded conductors of a circuit. If the current entering a GFCI is different than the current leaving the GFCI, the unit de-energizes the circuit. GFCI outlets are easily identified by the reset and test buttons located on the outlet.
Why do I need a GFCI outlet?
Since their introduction, GFCI outlets have reduced the number of electrocution related deaths from 800+ per year to fewer than 200. GFCI power outlets are a compulsory safety measure for certain locations in your home, especially any outlet that is near water like in your bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen. They can drastically reduce the risk of personal injury to you and your family. By constantly monitoring the flow of electricity, GFCI outlets are designed to prevent electrocution should instability in the electrical signal be detected.
Where do I need GFCI outlets?
When power outlets will be located near water or near the ground, our Abbotsford electricians recommend installing GFCI power outlets. This would include any power outlets in your home that are closer than 1.5 metres from your sink, and outdoor power outlets that are located within 2.5 metres of the ground or next to a water source such as a swimming pool or outdoor tap.
Consider having GFCI power outlets installed in any or all of the following locations in your home:
- Next to a bathroom sink or tub
- Adjacent to a kitchen sink
- Beside a laundry sink or utility sink
- Close to wet bars
- Inside garages
- Within crawlspaces and unfinished basements
- As exterior power outlets on the outside of your house
- Near spas and pools
Using and Testing a GFCI Outlet
You would use a GFCI power outlet just as you would any normal outlet in your home. You can plug any device requiring an electrical current and that appliance will work just the same. NOTE: We do not recommend plugging a refrigerator or freezer into a GFCI outlet since these appliances need a constant source of power.
To test your GFCI outlet, plug in a small lamp or other electrical appliance and turn it on. Press the test button on the GFCI power outlet. If the lamp or appliance stops working, the GFCI outlet is functioning correctly. Press the reset button and the outlet will return to normal, functioning mode.
If you have any concerns about any of the power outlets in your home or if you need an outlet repaired or replaced with a GFCI outlet, call our Abbotsford electricians Mike Speakman and Tristan McAllan today at 604-308-6195.
GFCI Frequently Asked Questions
What is a GFCI electrical outlet?
GFCI simply means Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, which is a modern electrical outlet designed to protect you from electrical shocks. We recommend installing GFCI outlets in any location that may be near water such as in your kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, garage, pool or spa area, or as outdoor electrical plugs.
What happens when a GFCI outlet trips?
When a GFCI outlet detects a ground fault (a low level electrical current leak), it automatically shuts off the power to that plug and the red button will pop out. First, confirm the reason why the outlet tripped before pushing the red button back in to reset it. If necessary, call a licensed electrician. You can also test the GFCI outlet simply by pressing the black button.
How safe are 2-prong outlets in older homes?
For proper grounding and to ensure safety, it is highly recommended that all older 2-prong outlets be replaced with modern 3-prong outlets. Most modern electronic devices now come with a 3-prong plug so that the device can be properly grounded.
Can I plug in a refrigerator into a GFCI outlet?
We do not recommend plugging freezers or refrigerators (appliances that need a constant source of power) into a GFCI outlet since these devices can be easily tripped.