Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters or GFCIs are special electrical outlets designed to protect you. You’ll often find them close to water – in the bathroom, by the kitchen sink, in the garage or on the exterior of your home. GFCIs are specifically designed to for use in wet environments. This has to do with it’s design. A GFCI outlet constantly measures the current in both the black and white wires, and compares them. Any shift in either, and the outlet shuts off, protecting you from a porentially lethal electric shock. If you run over the electric lawn mower cord with the mower, or mistakenly drop a hairdryer in the sink, a GFCI will come to the rescue!
Here’s where you come into play. Every GFCI receptacle has two buttons on it – test and reset. You should be using these once a month to test the integrity of the outlet. It has moving metal parts, and is often in a wet environment, so it has potential for failure. To test it, just press the TEST button. The button will pop out and the circuit will shut off. Press RESET to turn the power back on. If the button isn’t working like it should, the unit should be replaced. Never replace a GFCI outlet with a regular one – always replace with another GFCI outlet.
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