What do you know about the GFCI in your home? Most of us are aware that this is one of the necessary measures that will protect us and our family from an accidental electrocution.
Whenever electricity is involved, we can never be too careful. Even with all the devices installed and in place to protect you and your family, you need to get to know how each of them works. That way, you can identify if any of them are malfunctioning. These need to be repaired or replaced immediately if they are showing signs of defect. If not, these might do the opposite of protecting you and instead, will bring more danger to you and your family.
What is a GFCI?
The name is short for ground fault circuit interrupter. Its primary job is to prevent electrocution. A well functioning GFCI can usually sense when a body is receiving a shock. It has something to do with monitoring the electrical current that flows in and out of a circuit. If it is not the same, the circuit interrupter will cut off the power to avoid further injury to the body being electrocuted.
A ground fault circuit interrupter is usually installed where there is a chance that your electrical circuits will come into contact with water. This means it should be in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry area, garage, and even outdoors (e.g. pool area).
There are three different types of GFCIs. The most common is the “receptacle-type” that looks like a common outlet. Another type is the circuit breaker GFCI. This is used to replace the usual circuit breakers. This provides all receptacles in an individual circuit a ground fault circuit interrupter protection. The third type is known as portable or temporary GFCIs. These are used for settings like construction areas where electricity is needed but it has to be able to move as the building progresses. This is also useful for any outdoor setting that requires electricity.
How does a GFCI work to keep you safe?
Now that you know what a ground fault circuit interrupter is, it is time to try and understand how it works to protect your family from electrocution.
Let us start by defining what a ground fault is. This refers to a connection that conducts electricity between an electric conductor and any grounded (or may be grounded) conducting material (like the human body). All electricity will always find a way toward the ground. Sometimes, it is a path that it is not intended to be on.
A GFCI will make sure that if this happened, the electric current will stop flowing immediately. We mentioned earlier that this monitors the electricity flowing in and out of a circuit. If there is a difference that is more than 4 or 5 milliamps, the GFCI will automatically react by tripping or shutting off the circuit. This reaction is very fast – should be one-tenth of a second. This will stop the electrocution from happening and save the body from further harm.
It is very important for you to ensure that all the GFCIs in your home are all working. It is hard to determine if it is working unless you take the time to test it. Usually, the electrical receptacle will continue to function even if the ground fault circuit interrupter is already damaged. However, there is a way for you to test this out. These usually come with a TEST button that you simply have to push. This should turn off the power to the circuit. If not, then you need to call a professional to check this out.
A monthly check-up for your GFCI should be enough. But if you have the temporary ones, you need to check it before you use it.