Hundreds of deaths occur each year due to electrocutions in or around the home. Over two thirds of these deaths and thousands of electrical shocks can be prevented if a ground fault circuit interpreter is installed properly in the homes branch circuits. However many people do not know what a ground fault circuit interpreter or “GFCI” is or if it is installed in their homes.
Invented by Charles Dalziel in 1961, the GFCI is an inexpensive device that monitors electricity flow within the circuits. If there is a loss of current the device shuts off that circuit instantly to avoid a fatal dose of electricity. The national electric code requires them in all new kitchens and bathrooms as well as unfinished basements, crawl spaces and many outdoor areas. If you live near Atlanta, for instance, and are unsure if your home is up to code, it is prudent to contact an Atlanta electrical contractor. Wherever you live, it's best to be sure.
There are three common types of ground fault circuit interpreters used in the home.
GFCI receptacle: The most common type used since the early 1970's. These are types that look like a wall outlet. With areas on either side allowing the user to plug things into the wall and a two buttons in the middle that usually reads “test” and “reset”. When pressing the “test” button the GFCI should trip and turn off the power to anything plugged in. If this does not happen, the device is faulty or improperly installed and Atlanta-area homeowners should contact an Atlanta electrical contractor as soon as possible.
These devices resemble an extension cord. They plug into a wall outlet and allow users to plug items into them while the device is encased for weather protection. These are used mainly in outdoor areas where the receptacle type use is impractical.
GFCI Circuit Breakers:
These devices are installed into a panel box allowing for the GFCI to dual function. The device will protect the selected circuits from “ground fault” but will also shut down the circuit in the event of an overload or a short.
It is never wise for a homeowner inexperienced in electrical work to attempt to install a GFCI alone. Contacting an electrical contractor should precede any “do it yourself” projects around the home as there is a serious risk of injury and fatality for a simple error. In Georgia, an Atlanta electrician will be able to asses the electrical system in the home and provide a good deal of information on options and local codes.