Electricity 101: GFCI Outlets
April 27, 2018
With the ever-increasing amount of electronics – and technology in general – in our lives, we need more and more places to plug them in. Thankfully, most homes have an abundance of outlets available and we can power everything. However, with a greater influx of outlets comes a heightened risk of short-circuiting and even electrical harm if you’re not being careful to include adequate protection.
GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets safeguard you from overloaded electrical currents. With a simple addition to your outlets, you can be sure you’ll avoid accidentally hurting yourself or your delicate electronics, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing the outlets are doing their job to keep you safe. Electric Today’s experienced professionals are ready to help you make the switch, and they’ve got a quick guide to GFCI outlets to help you understand why ensuring you have them is the right choice.
Most outlets have two receptacles for a plug – the neutral prong and the hot prong. An electrical current flows into a device through the neutral prong and wire, to the device, and out the hot wire and prong, back into the source and through the rest of the circuit. When a current finds a shorter path to the ground – like through your body, or through a body of water – the current gets overloaded.
An overloaded circuit can cause problems that range from mild, such as a tripped breaker, to much more serious issues like electrocution or a spark that leads to a fire. Outlets near places where overloads could occur are more at risk, and they’re the places you should look to first when installing a GFCI outlet.
GFCI outlets are simple, but effective fixes to prevent these ground faults from occurring. They constantly monitor the current flowing into, through and out of the outlets to make sure the current doesn’t get overloaded. The outlets don’t require any additional work on your part – they’re just content to do their thing and keep an eye on the situation.
In the event the current gets overloaded, the GFCI automatically cuts it off. Thankfully, they don’t require a massive change to shut down – if they did, then the current might get too powerful and being impossible to stop by that point. No, the GFCI outlet shuts off the power when the difference in the current flowing between the hot and neutral wires becomes greater than 5 milliamps. Whatever was plugged in instantly loses power, but both it and you are safe.
While you don’t need to put GFCI outlets in every point of contact in your house, it’d be smart to have them installed in places that are prone to ground faults like outdoor outlets or ones with exposed wiring. Whatever the case, the installation job should be left to a professional electrician to ensure it is handled with the utmost care and precision.