A ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is a type of outlet that is often seen in kitchens and bathrooms. A GFCI outlet is easily identifiable by its additional push-buttons (often labeled “reset” and “test” on the front). In Houston, this sort of outlet is necessary if the outlet is placed near water, which is why you’ll most often find them in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and outdoors.
GFCI devices are licensed for protection against electric shock because they trip at 5 milliamps within 25 milliseconds – quickly enough to avoid electrocution of a human. If you are running a hand mixer and standing near a sink filled with water and accidently lose your hold on the mixer and it falls into the sink while you are still in direct touch with it, a GFCI can help save your life.
Where do I need to install GFCI outlets?
To say that conflicts over a house inspection might occur is an understatement. The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI, is one thing that may be aggravating. A GFCI is normally a receptacle equipped with little buttons labeled “Test” and “Reset.” Additionally, it can be integrated into a circuit breaker located in an electrical panel.
As part of their examination, home inspectors examine the operation of GFCIs. Additionally, they may consider installing GFCI receptacles near plumbing fixtures. However, they were not always mandatory. Thus, how can conflicts over the existence or absence of GFCI receptacles be resolved? Let us begin with safety and then move on to the needs.
What, after all, is a ground fault circuit interruptor (GFCI)?
A “ground-fault” occurs when electricity flows unintentionally between a source of current and a grounded surface. Electrical shock can occur if a person comes into touch with an electrified element without protection. For instance, if a person is carrying a broken hair dryer cord and comes into contact with a plumbing fixture, they risk being electrocuted. They would undoubtedly receive a nasty shock.
A GFCI receptacle monitors an electrical circuit continuously. If it senses even a tiny current flowing to a grounded item, it quickly interrupts the current flow. This safeguards against electrocution. It is especially critical to safeguard those who may come into touch with exposed grounded things such as plumbing fittings.
What distinguishes a GFCI from a standard circuit breaker or fuse?
When an excessive amount of electricity passes through a wire, it becomes heated. At times, it can get hot enough to ignite a fire within the confines of a house. Circuit breakers safeguard your home against fires by interrupting the flow of power to a wire when the demand for energy exceeds the supply. This can occur when an excessive number of devices are plugged into a circuit. That is why a power strip might be problematic if it is hooked into an excessive number of electrical devices. Circuit breakers do not safeguard against electrocution. Their goal is to keep you safe in the event of a fire.
When and where do GFCI receptacles required?
Beginning in 1971, residences were required to include GFCI receptacles. They were originally needed just on the façade of the home and on pool equipment. GFCI receptacles have been needed in an increasing number of areas throughout the years, including garages, restrooms, and kitchens. The following table is applicable to the majority of municipalities, however certain local codes may vary. Please contact your local building department for further information.
In an older home, GFCIs may not be required. Unless the electrical system has been upgraded, the seller is not obligated to update the receptacles. Therefore, if a 1950’s house’s kitchen has been modified and receptacles installed or relocated, they must be changed to GFCI receptacles if they are within six feet of a plumbing fixture. This also applies to restrooms. Therefore, when your home inspector recommends changing particular outlets to GFCI receptacles, rest certain that he is doing it for your protection. Although the seller is not required to upgrade the receptacles, you should do it for the sake of your family’s safety.
Is It Necessary to Have GFCI Outlets Professionally Installed?
These outlets are simple to install, which means that the majority of homeowners can do it themselves. However, if you are not comfortable working with electricity, it is prudent to hire a trained electrician to install the GFCI outlet(s) in your house.