How does a GFCI work

What is a GFCI? Here is an easy to understand article on what a GFCI is and how it works.

GFCIs, you might have heard people call them GFIs for short. GFIs are fast-acting circuit breaker like devices that detects when a current is flowing along an unintended path, then quickly shuts off an electric circuit when it detects that current is flowing possibly through water or through a person. 

GFCIs are designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. It is used to reduce the risk of electric shock.

A GFI works by measuring the current leaving the devices’ hot side and comparing it to the current returning to the devices’ neutral side. If the current returning is not equal, this means that some of the current is flowing along an unintended path, and the GFCI then quickly shuts the power off.

After the problem is corrected, the GFCI can manually be reset by pushing in the reset button. There is also a test button that can be used to verify that the GFCI works. It is recommended to test GFCIs at least once a month.

GFCIs are required in kitchens, bathrooms, unfinished basements, garages, outdoors, and protecting any receptacle within 6 feet of a  sink. GFCIs come in many forms, you can get GFCI circuit breakers that replace the breaker in the panel and protects the whole circuit, and the receptacle type that installs in a normal electrical box. GFCIs can protect outlets down line from them as well.

Caution: A GFCI does NOT protect against short circuits, overloads, or shocks. You can still get shocked by touching bare wires while standing on a non-conducting surface such as a wood floor or carpet.

Replacing a GFCI can be easy. With these simple steps (with pictures) I’ll show you how to do that and it will take only a few minutes.

How to replace a GFCI outlet.

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Need more information?

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