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A Homeowner’s Guide to GFCI Outlets

Today’s home electrical systems are quite safe and robust, providing all the power necessary for a growing collection of appliances, lights, and electronics. One of the devices responsible for the safety of the modern electrical system is the GFCI outlet. It can react quickly to abnormal current flows, preventing severe shocks and electrocution.

How Does a GFCI Outlet Work?

light bulbs lined up in a row against a blue backgroundElectricity normally flows from the service panel to the load via the line wire, through the load, then back to the source via the neutral wire. If the insulation of a wire is worn through or chafing against a metallic object, the current may find an alternative path to ground. In wet locations or cases where the wires are shorted to a metallic appliance enclosure, that path may be through a person, leading to severe shocks or electrocution.

A ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI can monitor the current flowing through the line, neutral, and ground wires connected to it. If any abnormal current flow is detected, it can quickly shut the circuit off, minimizing the shock and preventing electrocution.

GFCI outlets are required in many areas of the home, and they feature “test” and “reset” buttons that allow you to periodically verify that they are working correctly.

Where Should I Have GFCI Outlets?

In general, GFCI outlets are required within 6 feet of a water source such as a sink, bathtub, or washing machine. This means they are required in kitchens and bathrooms and a wide range of other locations. Since 1998, all new homes are required to have GFCI outlets in the following areas:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Wet bars
  • Basements
  • Crawl spaces
  • Garages
  • Laundry rooms
  • Near hot tubs and pools
  • Exterior outlets
  • Within 6 feet of water haters
  • Circuits for electrically heated floors

Not every outlet must be replaced with a GFCI outlet to provide adequate fault protection. In many cases, one GFCI outlet can protect itself and several downstream outlets, though it may be less convenient to have several outlets shut off when a fault is detected. Also, an alternative to GFCI outlets is GFCI breakers, which are installed in the service panel and provide full protection for the connected circuit. It is not required to replace non-GFCI outlets in the specified areas of older homes unless they are being remodeled, but doing so can greatly increase the safety of your home.

GFCI Outlet Installation & Replacement in Webster, NY

If you would like to add GFCI outlets to your home to make it safer or have GFCI outlets that have failed, talk to our experts at Lon Lockwood Electric. We offer GFCI outlet installation and replacement, GFCI breaker installations, electrical inspections, electrical repairs, and more. Our team can determine which circuits are GFCI-protected, which are not, and we can recommend the best upgrades to improve the safety of your electrical system.

Our company serves Webster, Rochester, and the surrounding areas. We feature experienced, courteous professionals with full background checks, on-time service, an A+ rating with the BBB, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all our services.

Call our team at 585-766-4702 or visit us online to schedule GFCI outlet installations in Webster or Rochester today!