GFCI Tips & Pointers

As a homeowner, one of your most important responsibilities is to maintain your home's electrical system. Electrical fires and other hazards can be caused by malfunctioning outlets, switches, and other electrical components. One important component to keep an eye on is the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet. These special outlets are designed to prevent electrical shocks by detecting imbalances in the electrical current and shutting off power to the outlet.

While GFCI outlets are an important safety feature in your home, they can sometimes malfunction or fail due to a variety of reasons. One common cause of GFCI outlet failure is power surges caused by lightning or other electrical events. When this happens, the outlet may trip, cutting off power to any devices or appliances plugged into it. This is particularly important because devices such as sump pumps, humidifiers, security systems, refrigerators, and irrigation clocks (just to name a few) are plugged into these GFCI’s and if the GFCI trips these appliances may stop working and because of this damage may ensue.

To avoid issues when a storm or lightning trips the outlet, it's important to conduct regular checks of your GFCI outlets. This can help ensure that they are functioning properly and are able to protect you and your family from electrical shocks. Here are some steps you can take to maintain your GFCI outlets:

  • Test the outlets regularly: To ensure that your GFCI outlets are working properly, you should test them at least once a month. To do this, simply press the "test" button on the outlet. This should cause the "reset" button to pop out, indicating that the outlet has been shut off. You can then press the "reset" button to restore power to the outlet. If the outlet does not shut off when you press the "test" button, or if it does not restore power when you press the "reset" button, it may be time to replace the outlet.
  • Keep the outlets clean and dry: Moisture can cause GFCI outlets to malfunction, so it's important to keep them clean and dry. If you notice any moisture or condensation around your outlets, you should wipe them down with a dry cloth and make sure that they are completely dry before using them again.
  • Replace old outlets: Over time, GFCI outlets can wear out and become less effective at protecting you from electrical shocks. If your outlets are more than 10 years old, it may be time to replace them with newer, more efficient models.
  • Don't overload the outlets: GFCI outlets are designed to handle a certain amount of electrical current. If you plug too many devices or appliances into one outlet, you could overload the circuit and cause the outlet to malfunction.

By following these simple steps, you can help ensure that your GFCI outlets are working properly and are able to protect you and your family from electrical shocks. Regular maintenance of your electrical system is an important part of being a responsible homeowner, and can help prevent costly repairs and even more costly accidents.