Why do I need GFCI receptacles in my home?

Do I need GFCI outlets in my house?

The short answer is yes!  Ground fault circuit interrupter devices are required to by code to be installed to protect outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages, basements, and exterior locations.  Basically anywhere there is a chance that an electrical device could come in contact with water you would want those outlets to be protected with ground fault protection.  Water and electricity don’t mix!


What does a GFCI outlet do?


Good question!  Ground fault circuit interrupter receptacle monitors the flow of current to your device and back to the electrical panel.  When it detects this flow becoming out of balance it shuts the electricity off.  This is to protect this current from going to ground elsewhere other than back to the panel.  It could mean that the current if flowing through someone’s body and going to ground through them.  The GFCI protects us from hazardous shock that could result in serious injury or death.  How much electrical current does it take to kill us?  Studies have shown that as little as 10 milliamps can stop a human heart.  A GFCI is set to trip at 5 milliamps to keep this from happening.


How do I know if I have GFCI protection?


GFCI protection can be tested using a receptacle tester with ground fault circuit interrupter testing capabilities.  A tester can be found in most hardware stores and are used by plugging them into an outlet and pushing the button.  If the power shuts off you have successfully tripped the GFCI and that outlet is indeed GFCI protected.  Find the receptacle with two buttons on the front of it and one should say test and the other reset.  Push the reset button in until it clicks and the power should be back on again.  The test button is used to ensure the receptacle is still working properly and should be pressed on a monthly basis to test the outlet.  If it fails the outlet needs to be replaced.


I have a GFCI outlet in one bathroom but not the others, why?


One GFCI outlet can protect other outlets given that they are wired correctly connecting them to a single ground fault circuit interrupter device.  A common example is a GFCI outlet in the bathroom closest to the electrical panel that is wired to serve the receptacle in another bathroom within the home.  It is also common for a garage outlet to protect an outside receptacle.  Not every outlet in an area has to be a GFCI receptacle but it needs to be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet or circuit breaker.


How much does it cost to have GFCI receptacles installed?


Our current cost to install GFCI protection on an existing circuit would run between $200-$300 per device.  HB Electric Solutions would be glad to help any homeowner out with upgrading the safety of their home.  Feel free to reach out via email or phone anytime!