What is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter?
If you've had an inspection in the recent past you've probably heard the term GFCI. What is that? GFCI is short for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. In simple terms this a safety device that is recommended as an industry standard. This device detects the amount of electrons (electrons are what make up electricity) flowing through a magnetic field. These devices sense as little as 4-5 milliamps of current and trip in about 1/30 of a second. Very little current escaping the circuit can cause the device to trip.
How does a (GFCI) work?
Here's an example of how the device works: Let's say that you're in a hurry and have to wash your hands. Someone has left the hair dryer plugged in and on the edge of the sink. You accidentally bump the dryer at it falls under the water. Your reaction is to grab the dryer...whoops. Having a working properly wired GFCI device in place will have just saved you from serious injury or worse. In far less time that it would take you to realize that you are being shocked, the GFCI device has safely shut off the current to the dryer.
As a rule of thumb, GFCI protection devices should be placed within 6 feet of water dispensing areas (all sinks, bath tubs, etc.), and at all exterior locations including decks, near pools and garages. If there is a question as to where they need to be placed, ask your electrician as they know the code for your municipality.
Most manufacturers recommend that you test your GFCI devices once every 30 days. To test to see if the device is operative press the "test" button. This should make the device activate. Then simply press the "reset" button and you're back in business. All is fine provided the device is properly wired within the electrical circuit.
How can I check if it's wired correctly?
A qualified person such as a home inspector can test the receptacle to make a general evaluation. A licensed electrician is the person that would analyze, troubleshoot and correct problems with electrical circuits and devices.
Go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission web site regarding Murry/Siemans recall.
ELECTRICITY IS DANGEROUS. IT CAN SERIOUSLY INJURE OR KILL YOU. ALWAYS BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN WORKING WITH ELECTRICITY. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS WHATSOEVER ABOUT YOUR SITUATION...
DON'T TOUCH IT! CALL AN ELECTRICIAN!
All rights reserved. Another Look Inspections, LLC. 2005
Last updated 5/29/2005
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