What is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are of upmost importance when it comes to protecting you and your family from electrical shock and keeping your household’s electrical system up to code. GFCIs are necessary in instances where electrical circuits have the potential to come into contact with water. As you can imagine there are many places in your home that could necessitate their need such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, around hot tubs or Jacuzzis, and outdoor outlets.

What is a ground fault?

A ground fault is a intentional or accidental conducting connection between any electric conductor and any conducting material that is grounded or has the potential to become grounded. Electricity will always find the path to the ground and in cases where it is accidental this path may be through a person’s body. Due to this potential for electrocution, GFCIs are intended to protect against electrocution.

How does the GFCI work?

This specialized outlet is constantly measuring the amount of electricity flowing into the circuit and comparing it to the amount of electricity flowing out. Differences in these currencies, even as small as 4 or 5 milliamps will cause the GFCI outlet to trip or close the circuit, stopping the electricity from flowing.

There are three types of GFCIs but the most commonly used type is similar to a common wall outlet which is the version most consumers are familiar with. Circuit breaker GFCIs are used to replace standard circuit breakers and these provide ground fault protection to all of the receptacles on that particular circuit. Additionally, there are temporary or portable GFCIs which are most often used in outdoor settings with electrical tools, etc., such as on a construction site. These temporary GFCIs should never be used in place of a permeant version and must be tested prior to each use.

GFCIs in older homes

If your home is older in age and doesn’t have an upgraded electrical system you may not pass inspection due to your homes’ unsafe wiring. This is because electrical codes in the past did not require a ground and usually only had two-prong receptacles. These out-dated receptacles do not contain the ground wires which protect people and electrical devices from electrocution in case of a fault. Ampt Over Electric’s expert electricians can assess your homes wiring and retrofit or rewire your house to ensure that you and your family are safe and your home is up to electrical code.

Ampt Over Electric offers professional Electrical Outlet and Switch Repair in Calgary. Our electricians in Calgary can also provide expert advice and service when it comes to Circuit Breakers.

GFCI maintenance and installation

GFCIs are recommended to be installed in areas where the outlet will be in close proximity to water. Water or wet objects have the capacity to conduct water very easily and can connect your body to a ground potential which would mean electrocution if a ground fault were to occur. Some appliances have built-in GFCI protection such as hairdryers but many others do not and would require GFCI outlets.

It is not common knowledge but homeowners should be checking their GFCI outlets monthly to ensure that they are working properly. The electrical receptacle in a GFCI may continue to function in spite of the GFCI circuit is no longer working. This means that the power outlet would still be providing power to your electronics without the ground fault protection feature being present. Pushing the test button on either the receptacle type or circuit breaker GFCI should turn the power to the circuit off. In the case of the receptacle type of GFCIs located around your home, pushing the test button should cause the reset button to pop up and in the circuit breaker GFCIs it should cause the handle to move to the tripped position. If at any time these tests do not cause the outlet or breaker to be tripped, it is essential to call one of our expert Electricians at Ampt Over Electric (403) 862-1782 and get your non-functioning GFCI outlets replaced.

It only takes 5 milliamps of current leakage to trip a GFCI and this minimal amount of leakage may be hard to avoid in some normal circuits. Some stationary motors like a bathroom vent fan or fluorescent lighting fixtures may have enough electrical disparity to cause nuisance tripping. Tips to avoid unintentional or nuisance tripping of GFCI outlets, they should not supply circuits longer than 100 feet, fluorescent or other types of electrical discharge lighting, permanently installed electric motors.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters or AFCIs

There are different safety outlets called Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters or AFCIs. How do these differ from GFCIs? AFCIs provide advanced protection from electrical fires caused by unsafe or faulty home wiring conditions. AFCIs should not be confused with GFCIs are they both serve different purposes when it comes to the safety of your home. AFCIs are intended to address arc faults which are the cause of electrical fires and GFCIs are intended to address the possibility of an electric shock caused by ground faults.

Contact our professional electricians in Calgary for service and support.

2018-11-16T19:13:48+00:00 November 16th, 2018|Commercial, Electrical Tips, Residential|0 Comments

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