I would like to explain what exactly is a GFI. A GFI, or GFCI, as it is known, stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. It looks like a regular outlet, but it has two little buttons in the middle. There’s a test button and a reset button, and they are designed to turn off when they detect moisture. They are required in various places in the home, including bathrooms, on the kitchen counter, garages, basements, as well as your swimming pools and any outdoor outlets. There are a few locations in the home in which they should never be installed and that is if in the event that this GFI trips, that it can cause substantial damage. For instance, you should never plug in life-sustaining equipment or a sump pump into a GFI. It happens all the time because you typically see sump pumps in basements which is where GFI’s are required. In the event it trips, the sump stops working. I was called to one house where that was the case, and before you know it there was a foot of water in their finished basement. So make sure your sump pumps are not plugged into GFIs. Also, refrigerators should be on their own dedicated circuit and never onto a GFI because again, if this trips, then you have a whole refrigerator full of spoiled food.
GFIs have internal parts and some electronics, so they do fail every once in a while, so according to the manufacturer, you’re supposed to test these monthly. You test them by pressing in the “test” button all the way until it clicks, and then after that you press the reset button and see if the power comes back on. If you cannot get it to reset, then there might be a problem with it. What is interesting about these is on the back they actually have two sets of terminals. There is the load and the line, and what that means is this one GFI outlet can be attached to several other outlets. So, on your kitchen counter if one of these fails, it can actually cause all of your kitchen outlets to not work properly. It’s quite common for one to trip for whatever reason and all of a sudden you can’t use anything on your counter. But also occasionally they do break down after several years, and they do need to be replaced. So in that event you need to call a licensed electrician and have it changed.
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