GFI Electrical Outlets

Let’s say your teen is using an electric drill outside and standing with bare feet in a puddle. Not a good idea. Electricity takes the path of least resistance, which just might be from the drill along arms and legs and into the puddle. If the drill were plugged into an ordinary outlet, this could be a fatal accident.

In recent years, the National Electric Code has included requirements for special outlets where such accidents could happen: pools, garages, kitchens, bathrooms, near spas, and in some other outdoor areas. These special outlets are called “GFIs” or “GFCIs” (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters). A GFI detects that the current in an appliance is no longer flowing in its proper circuit. It shuts off the current within milliseconds. In the case of our teen, if the drill were plugged into a GFI outlet, electrocution would be avoided — a life saved.

GFIs look different from ordinary outlets. They have two buttons labeled “Test” and “Reset.” You can check that a GFI is working by pressing “Test.” It should shut off current to the outlet so that the outlet no longer provides power. After the test, you can restore current to the outlet by pressing “Reset.” GFIs have a limited lifespan so test your GFIs once a month. Click here for additional tips for GFIs.

Check that your kitchens, bathrooms, garage, and outdoor areas are equipped with working GFIs. (Refrigerators are incompatible with GFI outlets and should not be plugged into one.) If your home doesn’t have GFI outlets or they are no longer working, give [sc:company] in [sc:city] a call for a Free Estimate or ask for a Free Home Safety Inspection. GFIs are an inexpensive investment in your family’s safety.

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