Ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, protection prevents against shock and electrocution when users activate electrical devices. GFCI works by stopping the flow of electricity if the outlet detects a shift in the flow. The quick response of the GFCI protection can help prevent lethal amounts of electricity from leaving the system and potentially starting a fire or harming appliance users.
GFCI protection constantly monitors the flow of power through the outlet, creating an always-on protection against shocks and potential burns or fires. Owners should test the outlets at least once a month by plugging an appliance into the receptacle, powering it on and pressing the test button. The button should cause the GFCI protection to trigger and immediately shut down the appliance. Additional testing after power outages or whenever mandated by the manufacturer’s instructions for the outlet can also prevent failure. Pressing the reset button turns the GFCI protection back on after a test or triggering event.
GFCI outlets are commonly used in areas near water or exposed metal, such as kitchens, bathrooms and outdoors, and the National Electrical Code mandates use of this protection in certain parts of each home or business. GFCI protection is also found in some modern circuit breakers and portable devices for outdoor use.