GFCI’s, also known as GFI’s, monitor the amount of electricity that enters and leaves the circuit. If there is a drop in the circuit, then in a fraction of a second, it will trip the outlet which stops the flow of electricity. So for example, if you were to drop a kitchen appliance into the sink filled with water, the water would be electrified by the current coming from the outlet. The GFCI would sense the drop in current returning through the circuit and would shut it down. This would help prevent anyone with body contact to the water from being electrocuted.
While conducting home inspections I always check to make sure that these safety features are in place. Often, homeowners, sellers, and REALTORS are always quick to point out that at the time the home was built GFCI’s were not required. It may be true that the homes are grandfathered in and the extra protection may not be required, but they are still an important safety upgrade.
The reason why they are required now is that they do save lives, so have GFCI outlets installed. I always recommend that licensed electrical contractors do the installation. However, if you choose to do it yourself, then you will need to check them to ensure that you installed them correctly. You can purchase a plug-in tester at any hardware store for about ten dollars. Keep in mind that these outlets do go bad and will need to be tested regularly. Thinking you have protection when you don’t might tempt you to use appliances close to water that you normally wouldn’t. So, take the time and spend the money to protect yourself and your family from potential harm.
For more information, contact Scott at www.scottsauer.com.