GFCI, short for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, is an outlet that protects humans from electrocution by monitoring the power that goes in and out of a circuit.
Once it detects a slight change in the power that goes out or re-enters the circuit, it immediately cuts the power.
When power returns to the circuit, the GFCI will need resetting to restore power to the electric circuit. Some GFCI outlets come with buttons. You can easily reset these GFCI outlets by pressing the buttons. However, some outlets don’t have buttons. So how do you reset them?
How Can You Reset A GFCI Outlet With No Buttons?
A GFCI outlet without a reset button is designated as Protected GFCI. This designation indicates that it is a subset of the primary GFCI receptacle in the building
Follow the step below to reset a GFCI outlet without buttons:
- First, locate the primary GFCI receptacle.
- On the main GFCI receptacle press Test.
- Press Reset.
So, where can you find a GFCI outlet in a building?
Where Can You Find A GFCI Outlet In A Building?
When engineers first invented the GFCI in 1961, their application was primarily for indoors. However, in 1971, it became a mandatory requirement to locate them outdoors for all buildings.
You’ll find GFCI outlets in all wet areas of the building, both inside. The reason is that water is a good conductor of electricity and electrical circuits close to damp places are high-risk areas.
However, you’ll still find GFCI outlets in some places indoors that are prone to electric mishaps. So, in essence, you’ll find GFCI outlets in places like the laundry area, bathroom, kitchen, garage, swimming pool area, crawl spaces, etc.
GFCI outlets save a life by preventing electrocution. In addition, they are affordable, easy to install, and easy to use. So, suppose you want to install a GFCI outlet in your building, what do you do?
How Can You Install A GFCI Outlet In Your Building?
- First, check for GFCI plugs in your building. Building codes now require the installation of GFCI outlets in wet areas, such as baths, pools, and kitchens. Check your building to see if you will find any plug for the GFCI outlet.
- Next, turn off the power directly from the circuit breaker. Finally, remove the plate and use a test tube to ensure it’s off before starting any work.
- On the circuit box, remove the outlet in use presently so you can replace it with a GFCI outlet. Removing the outlet will expose two wires. Ensure they don’t touch each other.
- Put on the power and test the wires for current. Mark the wire that has no electric current.
- It’s time to connect the wires. The GFCI has two main wires – line and load. The line wire, which is the wire that receives power, links to the power wire (black). The load wire connects to the white wire and is responsible for sending current to other connected outlets.
- Once you have connected the wires, use electrical tape to tape the mouths together for additional safety.
- There’s a green screw on the GFCI plug. Connect the ground wire to the green screw. Then, put back the GFCI plug into the box and cover it with a wall plate for its safety.
- Note that you don’t need to install one outlet for each circuit. For example, one GFCI receptacle in the bathroom can take on or protect other electric circuits in all other bathrooms in the building if well connected.
- The same thing goes with the kitchen countertop. But, again, one receptacle can cover other circuits around there.
Several types of GFCI you can install in your building exist. We discussed them in the next section.
What Are The Types Of GFCI?
Portable GFCI is used mainly for outdoor buildings, by contractors at a worksite, and other specialized buildings, especially those involved with high electrical appliances, such as drills, mowers, and other similar devices.
We strongly advise against using the portable GFCI permanently in a residential building. For example, you can use it to test heavy electrical appliances but not permanently as an outlet in a home. This outlet requires testing every time before use.
It has a no-voltage release system that immediately cuts off power to outlets if any conductor that supplies current is open to avoid a hazard.
This outlet is like any other outlet protecting the circuits or any appliance connected to it. It is suitable for residential buildings and is inexpensive.
GFCI circuit breaker:
Unlike others, this can protect an entire circuit in the main circuit board. It is a replacement for a standard circuit breaker.
It is, however, essential to note that, before installing a GFCI circuit breaker, it must tally with the main electrical panel.
Some old houses still fuse. For these kinds of homes, a circuit breaker is a no. Instead, a GFCI receptacle would suffice.
Generally, it is advisable to test a GFCI outlet before use. So, how often should you try a GFCI outlet?
How Often Should You Test Your GFCI Outlet?
GFCI outlets in residential areas require testing at least once a month. For those using outdoor electrical tools, such as mowers, trimmers, and drills, you should always test the GFCI outlets before use.
Installing a GFCI outlet in a building offers many advantages. What are they?
What Are The Advantages Of Installing GFCI Outlets In Your Building
Protection from electrocution:
Without the GFCI outlet, there’ll be many electrical hazards in homes. Children can easily play with circuits, especially when no one is looking. If it is exposed to water, it can be hazardous.
However, if a GFCI installed in the home can prevent these accidents by tripping off immediately, it notices a change in the current flow.
Helps avert electrical fire outbreak:
Fuses are indeed able to detect and prevent fire outbreaks, but it is also true that without an installed GFCI outlet, the fuse may not completely contain the fire.
GFCI outlets detect ground faults that occur when current moves out of a circuit. This current that comes out of an electric circuit is responsible for starting electrical fires. An installed GFCI outlet can completely contain a fire outbreak in the presence of a fuse.
Protect electrical appliances:
Your electrical appliances insulation breaks down with age, owing to wear and tear. Electric current can slip through these cracks into the plugged devices and cause electric shock.
This situation causes electric shock when the appliance, especially if the device has a metallic structure.
Some appliances do not have metallic parts, so you may not feel any shock. However, continuous plugging into such circuits may cause damage to your device.
However, a GFCI outlet will detect the leak and cut the circuit’s current, preventing further damage to electrical appliances.
You can see that installing a GFCI circuit in your home will benefit you a whole lot. However, GFCI outlets are not without problems. What could these possibly be?
Problems Of GFCI Outlet
One of the significant problems of a GFCI outlet can wear off with age. When a GFCI outlet gets old, it begins to trip off frequently.
You’ll know that your GFCI outlet needs replacement when it trips off almost everything you plug something into a circuit.
So, suppose the GFCI installed in your home may have buttons; wouldn’t you want to know what these buttons do?
What Are The Functions Of The GFCI Outlets Buttons?
Typically, there are two main buttons on a GFCI outlet – Red and Black. However, this is not always the case. The buttons may have other colors. So ensure to look at the buttons carefully for their accurate description, either Test or Reset.
The red button is the ‘Reset’ button, while the black button is the ‘Test’ button. You’ll see these written on them.
The Test button tells you whether your GFCI outlet is working while the Reset button restores power to your GFCI outlet.
To test your GFCI outlet after installation or any other time, connect an appliance to the outlet and press the Test button. It should not work. If it doesn’t power up, know your outlet is in good condition.
However, modern GFCI outlets have a light indicator, either green or red. A green light means the GFCI is in good condition, while a red light means it needs replacement immediately. So don’t ignore it, because if you do, disaster may occur.
So after testing and you confirm that the GFCI outlet is working, press the Reset button to power it up.
If the outlet detects a change in the current of a circuit, it goes off immediately. You’ll notice that not all the electric circuits connected to that outlet are working. After that, you can now press the Reset button for the current to return to the electric circuits.
A GFCI outlet helps prevent electrocution by cutting off power in a circuit when it detects changes in the amount of electric power that goes in or out of a circuit.
After shutting off the power, the GFCI outlet will need resetting to restore power to the circuit. Some GFCI outlets have buttons for resetting them. Others don’t have any buttons.
A GFCI outlet without buttons is a subset of the primary GFCI receptacle. So, you can reset it by locating the central receptacle and pressing the Reset button on it.