How Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Keep You Safe
Ever seen the acronym GFCI? It stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. It’s designed to help prevent electrocution. If a person’s body begins receiving a shock, the GFCI senses this and cuts off the power before injury takes place.
GFCI’s are installed wherever electrical circuits may accidentally come in contact with water. You’ll find them in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, even outdoors in garages and outdoor living space.
Electricity always wants to find a path to the ground. With a ground fault, electricity finds a path to the ground, but in a way it was never intended. When this path is through a person’s body, the results can be deadly. Because of shock hazard, GFCI’s were created as a protection device for human life.
When a ground fault circuit interrupter is in place, it will sense the difference in the amount of electricity flowing into the circuit compared with that flowing out. Even the smallest of differences – 4 to 5 milliamps – the GFCI reacts immediately and trips or shuts off the circuit.
The most common GFCI is receptacle based, similar to a common wall outlet, yet providing the protection from within. Circuit breaker GFCI’s are often used as replacements for standard circuit breakers. Portable GFCI’s are frequently used on construction sites and provide temporary safety in areas where changes are frequent. You’ll find portable GFCI’s frequently in outdoor settings, used with mowers, trimmers, power tools and other similar devices.
While GFCI’s are commonplace in most homes, just like other appliances, they can fail over time. It’s important that you test your GFCI on a regular basis to ensure it is working properly. With receptacle based and circuit breaker equipment, pushing the TEST button should cause the RESET button to pop up. Pust the RESET button to re-establish power and protection. Portable GFCI’s should be tested before each use.
If you ever have a question about a GFCI’s function, error on the side of safety and get it checked out immediately.