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How to Properly Test and Reset a GFCI Outlet

GFCI-Electrical-OutletThere are two main issues that you need to worry about when it comes to your home’s electrical system. The first issue is house fires. The second is electrocution. Both of these problems result from the current in your system traveling in ways that it’s not supposed to be. This often results from a short circuit, which diverts the current either into flammable material or into anyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with it. One of the best ways to protect against these kinds of issues is to install GFCI outlets throughout the home. Let’s have a look at how you can properly test and reset a GFCI outlet, so that it can continue protecting your home.

What is a GFCI Outlet?

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The outlet monitors the amount of electricity flowing through it at any given time, as when there are appliances plugged into it. If the balance of the current flowing through the outlet is thrown off at any time, as when a short circuit occurs, the outlet will cut off the flow of electricity through it as quickly as possible. The outlet is designed to do this as quickly as within 1/30th of a second after the imbalance occurs, in order to cut off the flow of electricity before any serious electrical shock can be delivered.

GFCI outlets are mostly used in areas where they are near water, like the kitchen and bathroom. These are the places where those kinds of electrocution risks are more likely to occur. Nothing is wrong with installing GFCI outlets in other areas of the house as well, though.

Testing the GFCI

Ideally, you should be testing your GFCI outlets at least once a month. You don’t want to have the outlet develop a problem and stop offering its protection without you knowing. Fortunately, it’s quick and easy to actually test the outlet. First, hit the “reset” button on the outlet. Then, plug in an appliance. Anything that you can turn on and off easily will work just fine. You should be able to turn the appliance on and off. While the appliance is on, hit the “test” button on the outlet. The appliance should instantly turn off, as the electrical flow to it is blocked by the outlet. If that happens, your outlet is working properly. Hit the reset button again, and check it again next month. If hitting the test button does not shut off the appliance, though, then you might have a problem. It’s best to have a professional examine the outlet at that point, and repair or replace it as necessary. It’s not worth keeping a GFCI outlet that doesn’t actually protect you against anything, after all.

Anderson Electric Corp. installs and services GFCI outlets throughout Wayne, NJ. If you need electrical services of any kind, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert electricians. We’ll make sure that your home’s electrical system is as safe as possible.  

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