What Is a GFCI Outlet and Why are They Needed?

A GFCI outlet, or Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter, is an outlet that detects tiny electrical leaks that would not necessarily cause a circuit breaker to trip, effectively breaking the circuit and preventing electric shocks.

Electrical leaks are caused by defective devices or cracks in a wire’s insulation. These leaks, especially where water is involved can cause electric shock. This is why GFCI outlets are used in locations near water sources such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, as well as in generally wet locations such as outdoor receptacles on the exterior of a house, or those used for 120V hot tubs, water features or pond lighting. 

GFCI outlets are often wired together on a single circuit with other GFCI outlets and non-GFCI outlets. That means if the GFCI outlet trips, the whole circuit will be cut and there will be no power at every outlet on that circuit. If this is the case, all you have to do is re-set your GFCI outlet(s).

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