5 Must-Know GFCI Facts

GFCI outlet at sink

1) What is a GFCI? 
GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. It’s an electrical safety device designed to protect people from electrocution. They’re usually installed anywhere water and electricity are in close quarters – like a bathroom, for example – but many homeowners use them all over the house because of their increased safety.

GFCIs were originally designed with a manual test feature – a button on the front of the outlet that a consumer could push to periodically check the condition of the outlet and make sure they were still protected.

2) What is a ground fault?
A ground fault is an unintended electrical path between a power source and the ground. When an outlet is damaged, this can mean that an electrical current could flow through you instead of the outlet’s conductors if you’re plugging something in to the damaged outlet. This can cause severe injury if the current is strong enough.

3) So how do GFCIs protect me?
GFCIs protect the user by shutting off the flow of electricity if the amount flowing into the circuit differs from the amount returning. Many GFCIs can detect extremely tiny amounts of change – even 4 or 5 milliamps. GFCIs also react in less 1/10th of a second to shut off the current in case damage is detected.  

4) What are the new GFCI regulations?
As of June 29th, 2015, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mandates that all GFCI receptacles must be self-testing units. While GFCIs were designed to manually tested, few consumers actually tested the units. This resulted in UL updating its standards and adding another layer of protection with the self-test feature. 

5) What self-testing GFCIs does Do it Best stock?
Doitbest.com features 8 different Leviton self-test GFCIs, many in each of the popular outlet colors: white, ivory, light almond, and black. Some even come with matching wall plates included. 

One of the most feature-rich Leviton products is their Smartlock Pro Self-Test GFCI. The Smartlock outlet gives you a clear visual indicator if the GFCI might be damaged and includes a lockout feature that prevents resetting if the outlet can’t respond to the ground fault. It’s also one of the sleekest profiles on the market, making for easy installation.

If you’re in the midst of a new construction or remodeling project be sure to check out Leviton, the leading innovator in self-testing GFCI outlets, and keep your home and family safe. 

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