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What Are GFCI Outlets and Why Should I Have Them Installed?

Electrical outlets continue to improve with each decade. Old two-prong outlets gave way to grounded three-prong outlets. And now GFCI outlets are overtaking the standard three-prong model.

You have already encounter GFCI outlets before, although you perhaps did not know that is what they are called or what they do. GFCI outlets have two buttons, usually color-coded red and yellow, between their two sockets. A small difference, but an important one.

If your home still has standard three-prong outlets (or archaic two-prong ones), you should make installation of new GFCI outlets a priority. ACI Northwest specializes in this installation work. We have served Couer d’Alene with electrical services for many years. Call us today to schedule an appointment to improve your home’s electrical safety.

GFCI outlets: protecting people from electrical shocks

GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter. It performs a function similar to a fuse. But where a fuse is designed to protect your electrical system from an overload and prevent fires, a ground-fault circuit interrupter is designed to protect you from a direct electrical shock.

A GFCI outlet can detect a subtle change between the flow from the “neutral” and the “hot” slots in an outlet. (The hot slot is the smaller of the two slots.) Power flows from the hot slot through an appliance and to the neutral slot during regular operation. The ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet monitors the amount of current moving from hot to neutral, and should it detect a change in the balance—as small as 4 or 5 milliamps—it will immediately trip an internal circuit breaker that cuts off power to the outlet. An imbalance like this means that the power from the hot side is going into something other than the appliance, and that usually means it is going into a person. With a correctly working GFCI outlet, the power will shut off before you can even notice the shock. You can then reset the circuit by pressing the “reset” button on the outlet.

Although modern homes have sturdier electrical systems capable of handling large electrical loads, this doesn’t lessen the danger from electrical shocks due to malfunctioning appliances or from accidents. Installing GFCI outlets will greatly reduce the potential for electrical injury in your home.

Call ACI Northwest for all your Couer d’Alene, WA electrical needs. We can perform fast and effective installation of new outlets that will keep you and your family safe.

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