When you use specific electrical devices or appliances in your Phoenix home, you run the risk of being shocked if something goes wrong. A GFCI outlet can significantly reduce this risk. These outlets are designed to protect you and your family from electrical shocks that can be deadly.
What Is a GFCI Outlet?
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is a kind of outlet that’s responsible for watching how much electricity moves through a circuit. Changes in this electrical flow cause the outlet to stop the flow of power. This helps prevent electrical shocks from occurring when you’re using a hair dryer or other device that you’re physically contacting. Without this type of outlet, you could end up being shocked if there’s a problem with the electrical system.
Is a GFCI Outlet the Same as a Breaker?
A GFCI outlet is not the same as a breaker, although both serve safety purposes. GFCI outlets protect people from electrical shock, while breakers safeguard homes from current overload. Breakers are designed to “trip” if too much current is drawn, preventing electrical fires from starting. A GFCI outlet also shuts off the circuit, but it doesn’t quite work the same way.
How Does a GFCI Outlet Work?
A GFCI outlet keeps track of the amount of current that flows through the hot and neutral conductors. The neutral or grounded conductor is the larger slot on the left on an outlet, while the hot or ungrounded conductor is the slot on the right. Normally, electricity should flow between the hot conductor and the neutral one.
A GFCI outlet watches for imbalances in this flow of electricity and trips the circuit immediately if it detects any. These imbalances can be very small, such as 4 or 5 milliamps, which helps provide reliable protection from electrical shock. The most important part of a GFCI is that when it senses that imbalance, it trips very fast – less than a tenth of a second which saves lives!
Why Do Current Imbalances Occur?
Current imbalances can occur when there’s a problem that affects the grounding path from an electrical device to the ground part of an outlet. The ground is the hole that’s slightly below the slots in an outlet. When an imbalance occurs, the current can pass from the electrical device through the person using it rather than going to the ground. This can result in a potentially fatal shock.
A GFCI outlet expects the electrical current to flow between the hot conductor and the neutral one. When this doesn’t happen, which can occur when the current flows from the hot conductor through the user, the GFCI outlet trips the circuit.
Do GFCI Outlets Always Work?
A GFCI outlet does have a few limitations that you should be aware. It won’t trip the circuit if you happen to touch the hot and neutral conductors at the same time since it won’t detect an imbalance. This means you can get a severe or fatal shock from doing this.
GFCI outlets also won’t work as they should if installed incorrectly. This is why it’s essential to have an electrician wire these outlets if you have new ones installed.
You can tell if GFCI outlets are working correctly by using the test button on them before you use an electrical device. The button should shut the power to the outlet off if it’s working correctly.
Having various types of outlets installed, including a GFCI outlet, requires the assistance of a professional electrician. Contact Turn It On Electric to replace or install any electrical outlets in your home.