What is a GFCI Outlet?
How To Make Your Home Electrical Safe
Making your home electrical safe is usually common sense and steps to insure electrical safety are part of every municipal building code. Licensed electricians know the code and know how to insure that simple safety procedures are followed, but do you? Here are a few of the simple precautions you should take to make sure your home is electrical safe.
Check the Condition of Current Outlets
Check your electrical outlets and switches to make sure they are in good condition. With age, plastic components on wall switches and outlets deteriorate and can crack and break off making contact with live electrical wiring possible. Moving furniture or kids playing in the house can also damage outlets and switches. Replacing damaged outlets and switches is a job that many homeowners feel comfortable with doing themselves but just make sure you turn off the breaker that supplies that outlet or switch. Check that the circuit is off by flipping the switch or plugging in an electrical appliance. Don’t trust your memory or the labels on the switch box.
Circuit Breakers Safety
Make sure that circuit breakers are properly installed, connector screws are tight and the correct amp fuse is inserted for each line. Using a 30 amp fuse or breaker on a 20 amp line poses a risk of fire if the wire is not rated for high enough amps. Using the higher amp fuse may keep the breaker from tripping but you run a serious risk. Make sure that the proper fuse or breaker is installed and if there is a problem with the breaker tripping or the fuse blowing you need to lighten the load on that line.
Inspect the Condition of Cords
Check your small appliances for worn or damaged electrical cords. This is the same for extension cords. Running over a cord with a vacuum cleaner or lawn-mower may have damaged the cord and it may need replacing. In some cases, it may be able to be possible to fix the cord by cutting off the damaged cord and replacing the plug.
When to Install a GFCI Outlet
Have a GFCI outlet installed whenever an outlet is within 1 meter of a potential water source. A GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter operates by detecting small imbalances between the outgoing flow of electricity and the incoming flow of electricity. An imbalance can mean that electricity is being directed through a person using an electrical device to the ground. The chance of this situation occurring is greatest in places like the bathroom, kitchen, workshop and outdoors where small electrical appliances are commonly used and there is a nearby source of water.
As an excellent conductor of electricity, water can help to complete the connection through a person’s body between the powered device and the ground, causing a potentially fatal electrical shock. GFCIs detect the imbalance of the electrical flow and turn off the power immediately preventing injury. GFCI outlets also come with a “test” and a “reset” button that should be used to regularly test that they are functioning properly.
Electricity is a potential killer but with basic precautions, your home will be safe.
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