a gfci outlet in a bathroom on a tiled wall

GFCI Outlet

Originally contributed by • last updated 3/17/2021

Jeff Butler
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These days, when a home is built, it’s equipped with numerous safety features to help ensure no major problems or damages occur. This is especially true with your home’s electrical system. 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 one if you’re having problems with an older one or you’re renovating and looking to upgrade.

Definition

GFCI outlets, also known as ground fault circuit interrupters, are found throughout homes and buildings, most commonly in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. They are fairly easily identifiable by their reset and test switches on the front, typically red and white in color. These types of electrical plugs contain sensors that detect problems with the flow of electricity and shut it off to prevent damage to devices or the entire electrical system. In certain cases or locations, it is required by law to have these outlets or GFCI breakers installed, especially when there is a greater risk for electric shock due to water exposure or a connection to the ground.

What Are The Buttons For On A GFCI Outlet?

In most homes, GFCI outlets or breakers will already be installed in all the necessary places. They’re pretty easy to recognize because they have a couple of buttons on the front of them. These buttons are sometimes used to test and reset the switch to ensure its safe operation:

  • 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.