4 Things You Should Know About GFCI Outlets

We’ve all experienced the flickering of lights or power outages that occur when a severe storm hits San Antonio. These fluctuations in the electrical flow can be dangerous to our homes and appliances, but there are ways we can protect ourselves from these power surges. Implementing surge protection or grounding processes could save you a lot of money in damaged devices — plus, it will give you peace of mind that your home is completely safe!

Luckily, Champion Electric knows that one of the easiest ways to halt electrical currents is by installing GFCI outlets in your home. As the premier San Antonio outlet installation team, you can count on us to share with you everything you need to know about GFCI outlets. Then we can perform flawless installations when you’re ready!

What Is A GFCI Outlet?

The electrical system in your home is made up of many different wires that are metal in the center wrapped in rubber. Usually, the electricity flows along the metal filaments and is contained by the rubber wrapping — because rubber does not conduct electricity. However, a surge of power or an exposed wire can cause the electricity to jump from its designated path. When electricity moves freely, it tries to get to the ground in the quickest way it can — including moving through people.

Ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs) have sensors that recognize when electricity is running off its normal path, and they shut off the flow of electricity. This saves anything in the electricity’s path from being shocked — or potentially wounded if a person is exposed to enough electricity.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) made GFCI outlets mandatory for all homes built after 1971, causing an 83% drop in electrocutions in the 50 years since. People may still be exposed to a shock from a GFCI outlet, but the technology ensures that you can’t come in contact with an open flow of energy.

How To Operate A GFCI Outlet

GFCI outlets look very similar to regular outlets, consisting of the same set of three-pronged plugs in your wall. However, GFCI outlets have two small buttons in the middle that say ‘reset’ and ‘test’. When a GFCI outlet has been tripped to stop a dangerous flow of electricity, you can press ‘reset’ to return the flow of power to the outlet. If you want to test the function of the outlet, plug in a small electrical device and press ‘test’. If the device shuts off, then the GFCI outlet works and has shut off power to the outlet.

Where Should You Have GFCI Outlets Installed?

It’s not necessary for electrical safety to have every outlet in your home as a GFCI outlet. You should be most concerned with rooms that have water access (wet rooms) because water conducts electricity easily. Outlet requirements state that any outlet within 6 feet of a sink, washing machine or water heater should be GFCI. It’s a good idea to have GFCIs in garages and unfinished basement as well.

Any other room in your home that does not have access to water is perfectly safe with traditional outlets. Older homes built before 1971 are not required to have GFCI outlets by law, but any updates to the home’s wiring will result in the outlets needing to be brought up to code. We also recommend upgrading the outlets in older homes just for the sake of safety.

Can You Install GFCI Outlets Yourself?

It is possible to install a GFCI outlet yourself, but it’s not recommended. The wire outlets can contain several kinds of wires and directions of electricity flow to different parts of your home. If any complications arise, you’ll want a professional to secure your electrical system the right way and give you peace of mind that the job was done right.

Have Your Outlets Assessed During Your Free Whole-Home Safety Inspection!

Champion Electric wants you to have to worry less about the safety of your home — because we’ll be using our expertise to give you maximum protection. Let our team do everything we can to keep your home secure. If you’re ready to have your outlets evaluated or upgraded, schedule a free safety inspection today!