Home and Community Safety & Health Safety Articles mentioned in FSH Instagram posts

Are your GFCIs working properly?

Photo: Jennifer Yario

Their name may be intimidating, but they’re very good to have around! We’re talking about ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs.

GFCIs are safety devices designed to protect against electric shock. Your home likely has many of them. They’re often installed “in areas where water and electricity are in close proximity, such as the bathroom, kitchen, garage, basement and outdoors,” the Electrical Safety Foundation says, adding that they’re “especially useful for cord-connected appliances and equipment used outdoors or near water.”

What does a GFCI do? It quickly shuts off power to a circuit “if the electricity flowing into the circuit differs by even a slight amount from that returning, indicating a loss of current.”

National Electrical Code requires GFCIs in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages and outdoors.

The ESFI lists four steps for checking to make sure the ones installed in your home are working properly:

  1. Push the “reset” button.
  2. Plug a nightlight or other device into the outlet. The nightlight should be turned on.
  3. Press the “test” button. The nightlight should turn off.
  4. Push the “reset” button again. The device should turn back on.

“If the nightlight did not turn off, the GFCI is not working properly,” the ESFI says. Call a licensed, qualified electrician to replace it.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)