What is a GFCI and Why is it Important?

A GFCI is a very important component of a home and the safety that it provides. 

What is a GFCI?

 A GFCI is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter – which is a tool created to keep people from getting shocked by outlets. 

The GFCI is installed anywhere that there is potential danger to humans from the environment that the outlet is in, like near a shower. Water sources with outlets nearby are the most often places where GFCIs are used. 

A GFCI outlet may sound like something you have never seen before, but they are very common and are in many rooms in every home and building. A GFCI outlet is different than regular outlets because it has a red “test” button in the middle, and below it has a black “reset” button. These buttons are located in between the two plug sockets. 

What Does a GFCI Do?

The purpose of a GFCI is to break the circuit whenever it detects a current that is imbalanced. The current being imbalanced means that one side is attracting more of the electrical current. 

This typically means that there is something that is interfering with the circuit, which is often that water or a living being has come into contact with the circuit. 

The GFCI will interrupt the electrical current and stop it from going to the other end that is being interrupted. This was created to reduce the amount of shock that a person or animal will get if they come into contact with an outlet. 

Why is a GFCI Outlet Important?

A GFCI outlet is important for three main reasons – preventing electrical fires, preventing or lessening electrical shock, and avoiding damage to appliances. 

Preventing Electrical Fires

  • Detects ground faults – cuts off electrical supply when the electrical current is detected leaving the circuit – when this happens fires start 
  • Reduces chances of electrical fires to less than 1%

Electrical Shock 

  • GFCIs have built-in sensors that monitor the electrical current flowing to the appliances 
  • Will shut off power to the appliance plugged into the wall if a foreign object comes into contact with the circuit (like a human finger) 

Appliances

  • Protects appliances from shorting out 
  • Keeps appliances protected if insulation begins to separate and allow electricity to become exposed

Overall, GFCIs are not only a good investment to make for your own safety, but they will also keep your appliances from being damaged and greatly reduce the risk of electrical shock and electrical fires.