The three-pronged outlet has been the standard in homes for a good stretch. These grounded outlets are simply better all around for household safety.
But having three-pronged outlets isn’t the end point when it comes to your home’s electrical safety. If you don’t have GFCI outlets in key parts of your house, we recommend calling our electricians in Kent, WA and scheduling installation to upgrade the old outlets.
What Are GFCI Outlets?
If you aren’t certain what we mean when we talk about GFCI outlets, these are the outlets you’ve probably seen in hotel bathrooms or in the bathrooms and kitchens of new houses. They look like a standard two-outlet fixture, except between the outlets are a set of buttons: one marked “Test” and the other “Reset.” Take a look around your home now to see if you have these outlets installed anywhere. Check the bathrooms and the kitchen first, since this is where GFCI outlets are most often found.
What a GFCI Outlet Does
Okay, so you’ve established that you don’t have GFCI outlets in your home based on a visual check. Now you’ll want to know what GFCI outlets actually are, starting with what the letters mean.
GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. You may be able to take a guess as to what the outlet does based on the name, but it still requires more explanation.
The short version: A GFCI outlet contains its own circuit breaker to cut off flow of voltage in the outlet if there is a danger of a person suffering from an electrical shock, either from the outlet itself or through an appliance plugged into the outlet.
The long version: A GFCI outlet monitors the flow of electricity from the “hot” side of the outlet (this is the larger of the two slots) to the neutral side. When any appliance is plugged into an outlet, the electricity completes a circuit, moving from the hot side, through the appliance, and then back to the neutral side. A GFCI outlet is designed to trip it circuit breaker if it detects a difference in electrical flow between the two sides. If there is an imbalance, it means electricity from the hot side is traveling into the ground (a ground-fault) rather than in a circuit back to the neutral side.
And if electricity is going into the ground, it means it is taking a short-cut that it shouldn’t—and that’s probably because it’s going through a person. The GFCI outlet acts immediately to prevent further electrical shock. The change takes only a fraction of a second. The circuit breaker can be reset with the “reset” button.
We recommend you have GFCI outlets installed in your kitchen and all the bathrooms and any other location where water is used in the home. These are the areas where electrical shocks are most likely. We also recommend having GFCI outlets in each bedroom. Making these upgrades is an important step in improving electrical safety, especially if you have young children in your home.
Resicon LLC serves the Greater Tacoma Area. Schedule electrical services to upgrade your house with us.