Home Inspector in Moore, Oklahoma
What is the Purpose of a Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)?
The main purpose of a GFCI outlet is to protect the home occupants from shock. The GFCI is a circuit break integrated into the outlet and cuts power to almost instantly when it detects an imbalance in the current. This differs from a normal circuit break which only shuts off when the current is too high.
Where are GFCIs required?
The easy answer is anywhere that has a high likelihood of coming in contact with moisture. The main areas are any outdoor outlets, bathrooms, garages, unfinished basements, kitchens, and crawl spaces. The National Electrical Code (NEC) started requiring GFCIs in 1968 for underwater pool lights and has continued to add locations like utility sinks in 2005.
Can I replace a GFCI myself?
I recommend any electrical work be conducted by a licensed and qualified electrician. Any electrical work can cause shock or fires if the proper precautions are not taken. However, there are many DIY’ers out there like myself who would rather do it.
Step 1 – Make sure power is turned off!!!! Turn off the circuit break to the outlet. The next step is very important. Check to see if the outlet is actually off!!! I’ve “turned off” many circuit breakers that were supposed to be in the one for that area that actually were not. Buy an electrical tester and ensure no power is going to the outlet.
Step 2 – remove the face place and removed the mounting screws. This will allow the outlet to be pulled from the wall. Remove the outlet gently being careful not to damage the wires.
Step 3 – remove the wires from the current outlet. Inspect the wires to see if they are in good shape. You may have to cut and strip the wire to prepare for the new outlet.
Step 4 – Test is the wires if desired. Wires could have been installed incorrectly or used the same color wires. Test the wires if you are unsure which wire is the hot or neutral. To test the wires you are going to have to turn power back onto the outlet. This means you will have live wires hanging out, make sure they are not touching anything before you turn power back on.
Step 5 – Once the wires are identified turn the power back off. You are now ready to install the new GFCI. Usually you are going to connect the black line hot wire to the brass screw and the white wire to the silver screw. Lastly connect the ground wire to the green screw.
Step 6 – Slide the outlet back into the outlet box and install mounting screws. At this point you can turn power back on and check to see if you wired the outlet correctly and if it works.