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What is a GFI? & why you need them in your home

Your house is your sanctuary, a place to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and. You make sure the foundation is sound, that the structure is sturdy, and that the paint is lead-free. You may have even installed a security system so that everyone can sleep better at night, or enjoy vacations far from home.

One unseen (yet highly important) safety measure to think about if you haven't already – especially if you're preparing to move in to an older home, is a GFI. A GFI (or GFCI: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) device protects a person from the risk of electrical shocks due to faults in any electrical item used in the home. 

A GFI compares the input current (from the hot side) to the output current (on the neutral side). Even the most minute difference in the current means that the flow is leaking somewhere – and you don't want that somewhere to be someone.

To keep a person safe in the event of a current leak, a GFI will swiftly cut off the power supply to the leaking device, within a mere 20 to 30 milliseconds, which will significantly reduce the possibility of any skin damage from a current gone awry.

GFI protection should be supplied wherever any outlet has a chance to be introduced to moisture. According to the National Electric Code in regards to units in residential homes, these places include:

•    Bathrooms
•    Kitchens
•    Laundry/utility rooms
•    Unfinished basements
•    Garages

Commercial building authorities may have additional requirements, as the scope of areas that require GFI protection increases with every code revision. Most modern outlets carry the familiar test and reset buttons, usually colored red and yellow. Other outlet types can be protected downstream from the outlet via push buttons by wiring any additional outlets installed in the home or building to the LOAD side of the GFI device.

Because of the latter option, it's not always possible to know up front if an outlet is GFI protected by simply looking at it. Working with a skilled electrical company can help you become familiar with your circuit breakers, outlets, and how they work together with GFI devices so that you can keep your home and family safe.

Call our “panel of experts” for help with your electrical panel.

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