What is a GFCI Outlet & How Does it Work?

If you’ve every wondered what a GFCI outlet is or how it works, we’ve got you covered; we’re GFCI and outlet repair experts! Watch the video and read some frequently asked questions below to learn more about GFCIs and how they can help protect your home!

What is a GFCI Outlet?

One way to think about an electrical outlet is to imagine it as a two-way road. Energy flows in one side and out the other. Shocks occur when that circuit gets completed by – you guessed it! – YOU!

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) protect you against this shock risk. These are used on outlets, extension cords, modular plugs, and even on your electrical panel itself.

Where Are GFCI Outlets Located?

GFCI outlets are most often located in places where water may interrupt the flow of electricity. This includes:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Utility rooms
  • Laundry rooms
  • Garages

You’ll be able to find them because they include “Test” and “Reset” buttons on the outlet itself. These may be color-coded – red for “Reset” and black for “Test”.

How Does a GFCI Work?

The left slot of an outlet is neutral. The right side is hot and the hole at the bottom grounds the whole thing. When appliances work as designed, the electricity flows from hot to neutral. In outlet with a GFCI, power is cut off when this electrical flow becomes unbalanced, even a tiny bit!

Other outlets may be “downstream” in the flow of electricity from your GFCI. When it trips, power to these will also be cut off.

How to Reset a GFCI Outlet

Most of the time, you simply need to hit “Reset” on your GFCI to restore normal power! If that doesn’t work, try testing the outlet by following the steps below.

How to Test a GFCI Outlet

Test your GFCI outlets every few months. Push the “Test” button and see if the power turns off. If it doesn’t, call us to have it replaced. If the outlet starts randomly cutting power off with any frequency, makes unusual sounds, or smells odd, call us right away!

We want to help you with all of your electrical needs. Call us at 24-7 Electrical Services anytime you have an electrical question or need some help.