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F.H. Furr's Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical Insider Blog

GFCI Outlet 101


School Is In Session! The Subject? GCFI Outlets And How They Keep You Safer!

There is an average of 70 electrical outlets in most U.S. homes, and since the 1980's, GFCI electrical outlets are a requirement for several types of rooms...and here's why!

GCFI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters and these interrupters help to minimize the risk of  overheating, electric shock injuries, burns, and fires . The outlet's sensors monitor the input and output of the electrical current levels being passed through an outlet. If the GFCI technology senses any electrical current imbalance, the device will quickly cut off the power supply to prevent damage or injury. 

How Do GFCI Outlets Work?

Ever wondered why you had to click that "RESET" button on your outlet when you go to power on your hair dryer? Chances are, your GCFI outlet was working to keep you safe!  The GFCI is integrated into the original electrical outlet and is constantly tracking the electrical flow from the circuit, sensing minute fluctuations in real-time. GFCI outlets have three wires that work together to prevent electrical disasters; the hot wire, the neutral wire, and the ground wire. For example, if that same hairdryer you picked up happens to slip from your hand straight into the running sink water, the circuit wires will immediately sense the interruption in current and cut power to the outlet, ensuring the safety of the user.

Where is a GFCI Outlet Needed?

It's imperative that GFCI outlets are installed in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms, pool house, basement, or any place where water might come into contact. Since it is required by law to have GFCI outlets installed throughout certain areas of your home, it's important for a certified electrician to inspect your outlets to ensure that your home is in compliance with state safety codes. They'll be able to offer advice on where outlets are a requirement as well as where they're simply just a recommendation.


The only downside to GFCI outlets is that they do wear out over time. It's recommended that GFCI outlet should be tested once a month and replaced every decade. Follow these simple steps to test if your circuit interrupter is working properly:

  1. The face of the GFCI outlet features two small buttons that are labeled "TEST" and "RESET". Press the "RESET" button to prepare for testing.
  2. Plug in a light or something that you can quickly determine has power, and turn it on. It should power on immediately.
  3. Now press the "TEST" button and the light should go off, signaling the mechanism.
  4. Once you know the CFGI outlet is working properly, you can press the "RESET" button and the circuit interrupter will be turned on once again.

Click below to check out our "How-To" infographic to print and keep for future tests.

How To Test Your GFCI Outlet

3 Benefits of Installing GFCI Outlets

The peace of mind on it's own is enough to make anyone want to trade out all their standard outlets for GFCI's, but in case you needed a recap, GFCI outlets help to....

  1. Prevent Shocks and burn injuries
  2. Avoid Damage to appliances and other technology
  3. Prevent fatal electrical fires
The main reason to install GFCI outlets is purely for the sake your home and family's safety. Contact us to have one of our highly-trained electricians come to you home and install peace of mind today!
Topics: Electrical Outlets Electrical Safety GCFI Outlets Outlet Upgrade Electrical Wiring GFCI Wiring