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Common Questions About GFI Devices

1. What is a GFI Device?

A GFI is a “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting” device. (Pretty fancy, huh?) This means it interrupts power to the outlet when it senses any electricity leaking out of the circuit. Basically, this means the device shuts off power when its senses that electricity is going somewhere other than back to the power grid. Which is good, because sometimes that electricity is escaping into a person!

2. Why Have GFI’s?

Simply put, GFI’s save lives. In the event of an electrical shock, current runs through the victim away from the source. GFI’s sense this and shut off automatically. Since their inception in the National Electrical Code, GFI’s have saved hundreds of lives. The US Consumer Safety Committee reports that two thirds of the 300 household electrical deaths that occur each year could be prevented with proper installation of GFI devices. Click Here to read The US Consumer Safety Committee’s Fact Sheet on GFI Devices in The Home.

3. Where Should I Have GFI’s Installed?

Kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor locations, especially near water, are a must. Garages, unfinished basements, and crawlspaces are also required in most jurisdictions. These are places in the home where ground faults commonly occur and people are the most susceptible to electrical shock. Did you know that only half the homes we inspect have GFI’s in the kitchen (shocking…isn’t it!).

4. How Do I Know My GFI’s are Working?

On the GFI outlet there is a button labeled “test.” Press the test button and you should hear a snap as the outlet shuts off. Press the “reset” button to restore power. If your GFI does not shut off when tested, get it replaced. The only way to really know if a GFI is working is to test it with a GFI tester (you can get one at your local hardware store). GFI testing is standard in our whole house electrical safety checks.

5. My GFI Trips All The Time, is The GFI Bad?

Maybe, but it’s probably just doing its job (protecting you from ground faults). Get the circuit checked out to make sure there is not a ground fault or leak somewhere in the wiring. Often appliances that have ground faults (electrical leaks) will cause a GFI to trip. It’s a good idea to have any appliance that is tripping a GFI checked out.

For More Information on GFI outlets visit GFCI Installation Services

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