a gfci outlet in a bathroom on a tiled wall

GFCI Outlet

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 2/18/2021

GFCI outlets and GFCI breakers are fairly commonplace in most modern kitchens and bathrooms, and in many cases, are mandated during construction and renovation. However, every so often, you may need to install a new GFCI outlet if you’re having problems or you’re renovating.

Definition

GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit interrupter) are found throughout homes, in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms, and are easily identifiable by their reset and test switches on the front. The term GFCI outlet (aka GFCI receptacle) refers to a type of electrical plug that contains a sensor which detects problems with the flow of electricity and shuts off to prevent damage to devices or the electrical system. In certain cases, it is required by law to have GFCI outlets or GFCI breakers installed in areas where there is a greater risk for electric shock due to water exposure or connection to the ground.

How To Wire A GFCI Outlet?

In most homes, GFCI outlets or GFCI breakers will already be installed in all the necessary places. However, sometimes they need to be tested, inspected, and replaced:

  • If you find that your GFCI outlet isn’t working, you may need to simply reset it by pressing the reset button on the front (you can also test the outlet by pressing the test button and then resetting it). However, if the reset button doesn’t work or your switch keeps tripping, you may need to replace it.
  • Once you’ve cut the power to the receptacle at the breaker box, replacing a GFCI outlet is as simple as removing the old one and connecting the new one, making sure all the wires, including the line and load, are hooked up to the proper terminals. However, if you are unsure about or have little experience with electricity, it’s strongly advised to contact and hire a professional.
beta