Do I Really Need GFCI Outlets in My Home?

Electric outlet and plate

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (better known as GFCIs) are outlets that can prevent electrical shock in areas that are near water sources, including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and outdoor areas. GFCIs are required by the National Electric Code (NEC) in all kitchens, bathrooms, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, garages, and outdoor receptacle locations.

GFCIs were invented in 1961, and were made to continuously monitor the current leaving the receptacle with the amount of current returning to the outlet. If they detect an imbalance they quickly (in as little as 1/40th of a second) shut off the electric flow, preventing harm. If properly installed and maintained, GFCIs save lives and protect against fire, overheating and destruction of wire insulation.

Testing your GFCIs is easy. Simply plug an appliance (such as a lamp) into the outlet. Turn the lamp on. When you press the “test” button, the lamp should turn off. The lamp should turn on again when you press the “reset” button. If the lamp stays on when you press the “test” button, it’s time to replace the GFCI.

For what they do, GFCIs are quite inexpensive and easy to install. However, as with most electrical jobs, it’s highly recommended you have a professional perform the job. Better safe than sorry. If your GFCIs need replacing, or if your home is older and doesn’t have them at all, call the experts at Milton Electric.