What are GFCI Outlets and Where Should They Be Installed?

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What are GFCI Outlets and Where Should They Be Installed?

When plumbing fixtures or appliances are located close to outlets, danger can follow if water gets into them or the electrical devices plugged into them. Luckily, there’s an easy way to prevent this shocking scenario – installing GFCI outlets throughout your home.

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What is a GFCI Outlet?

A ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a special type of outlet that detects imbalances in the electrical current and shuts off power to that outlet to prevent damage and diminish the risk of shock. GFCI outlets are ideally used to prevent electrical shock and damage when water comes in contact with the outlet – it’s basically shock insurance!.

A ground fault is a conducting connection between a conductor of electricity and any material that is grounded or may become grounded. Basically electricity always wants to find a path to the ground and through a ground fault it finds the way to the ground through something it shouldn’t. As in a person. If water gets into a plugged in device or splashes against the outlet, the GFCI will quickly shut off that outlet, stopping the ground fault and preventing an electrical shock. Once it’s safe to turn the outlet back on you can simply press the reset button.

Where Should GFCI Outlets Be Installed?

  • Bathrooms – All bathroom receptacles should have GFCI outlets installed.
  • Garages & Sheds – Any area inside or outside of the house that is not considered a "habitable" room should include GFCI outlets. This includes garages, sheds, and any other work/storage areas.
  • Basements – All unfinished basements and crawl spaces should include GFCI outlets as these are high-moisture areas. However, even if your basement is finished, it doesn’t hurt to install these outlets just to be safe. This is especially true if you live in a flood zone or do not have a sump pump installed.
  • Kitchens – All receptacles located near major appliances and the sink should be of the GFCI variety. As a rule of thumb, any outlet within six feet of the sink should be a GFCI outlet.
  • Laundry Rooms – Do you have a utility sink located in your laundry room? Any outlets within six feet of this sink (and the dedicated washing machine outlet) should be equipped with GFCI outlets.
  • Outside – All outlets installed outside of your home should be GFCI outlets. This includes outlets used for exterior lighting or those located near any pool or hot tub areas.

GFCI outlets are something that should be installed in multiple areas of your home for your own protection. When you need GFCI outlets installed or replaced, contact the electricians at Lancaster Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 717-207-8198.

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