If you take a second to look at the electrical outlets in your bathroom, kitchen, garage or outdoor locations, you might find that they look different from the outlets in the rest of the house.
Why are these outlets different?
These types of electrical outlets are called GFCIs, or ground-fault circuit interrupters. They are placed mainly in areas where electrical devices might come into contact with water. GFCIs are designed to shut off power when they detect a common type of electrical shock hazard called a ground fault.
Take for example, a hairdryer being used over a sink. If the hairdryer comes into contact with water, the GFCI detects the interruption in the current and immediately shuts off power, preventing electrocution.
What do the buttons and inscriptions mean?
All GFCIs have “test” and “reset” buttons, and an inscription which says “test monthly”. This means that every month the device should be tested to ensure it is working properly.
How do I test the device?
Follow your manufacturer’s testing instructions. Usually, they are as simple as:
1. Push the test button
2. Listen for a “click” that indicates the unit has tripped and is working correctly
3. Push the “reset” button
Should outdoor outlets be tested differently?
Outdoor GFCIs are more likely to fail because of weather exposure. It’s best to test an outdoor GFCI before each use to make sure it is working properly.
Take a moment today to test the GFCIs in your home and remember to do so monthly to protect yourself and your family.
Images courtesy of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company.
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