Ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets prevent accidental electrocution.
Ground fault protection has been around since about 1975 and has proven to be one of the most important developments in the electrical industry to-date. Code requires them in baths, kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and outdoor locations.
GFCI devices are programmed to watch for situations where electricity is finding a path to ground that does not align with the design of the electrical system.
In some cases, this path to ground could be through YOU. If a ground fault interrupter senses this dangerous condition, it instantly shuts the power off to protect you from the dangers of shock or electrocution.
The GFCI will not protect you from line contact hazards (i.e. a person holding two “hot” wires, a hot and a neutral wire in each hand, or contacting an overhead power line).
However, it protects against the most common form of electrical shock hazard, the ground-fault. It also protects against fires, overheating, and destruction of wire insulation.
Lots of people have questions about ground fault protection, we have some of the answers here:
What is a Ground Fault?
A ground fault is an inadvertent contact between an energized conductor and ground or equipment frame. The return path of the fault current is through the grounding system and any personnel or equipment that becomes part of that system.
What is a Ground Fault Protection GFCI?
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) can help prevent electrocution. If a person’s body starts to receive a shock, the GFCI senses this and cuts off the power before he/she can get injured.
GFCIs are generally installed where electrical circuits may accidentally come into contact with water.
Where do I need to have GFCI protection?
- Bathrooms: All receptacles must be GFCI protected.
- Garages and accessory buildings: GFCI protection must be included on all receptacles in structures that have a floor located at or below grade level, not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use.
- Outdoors: All outdoor receptacles must be GFCI-protected, with one exception: receptacles that are not readily accessible and are supplied by a dedicated branch circuit for electric snow-melting or deicing equipment do not need to be protected.
- Unfinished basements: Unfinished basements are defined as portions or areas of the basement not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, etc. Receptacles in these areas must have GFCI protection. Exceptions: GFCI protection is not required for the receptacles supplying only a permanently installed fire alarm or burglar alarm system, receptacles that are not readily accessible, or receptacles on a dedicated branch circuit and labeled for use with a plug-in equipment (ie: sump pump).
- Crawl spaces: In unfinished areas located at or below grade level, the same GFCI requirements are in effect as for basements.
- Kitchens: All receptacles serving countertop areas and any receptacle within 6 feet of a sink must have GFCI protection. Also, the receptacle supplying a dishwasher should be GFCI-protected.
- Laundry, utility, and wet bar sinks: Where receptacles are placed within 6 feet of the outside edge of the sink, they require GFCI protection.
- Pool/spa areas: GFCI protection is required for lights and lighting outlets; receptacles for pumps; all receptacles within 20 feet of a pool, spa, or fountain; and power supply for a pool cover.
What is the difference between a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) and an AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters)?
GFCIs and AFCIs function differently and offer different protection. GFCIs are used to protect people from the deadly effects of electric shock. This can occur if parts of an electrical appliance or tool become energized due to a ground fault.
AFCIs are used to protect branch circuit wiring from dangerous arcing faults that could start an electrical fire. Find out more about Arc Fault Breakers.
Don’t take a chance with your family’s safety.
GFCI and AFCI technologies can co-exist with each other and are a great complement for the most complete protection that can be provided on a circuit.
Contact Electri-Serve today to arrange a free estimate for the installation of ground fault protection devices in your home.