If you are thinking about a remodel or even house shopping, knowing a bit about GFCI outlets can help you with your task at hand. In the case of a remodel, you will need to include GFCIs in areas that could potentially be moist. In most cases, that consists of the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry area, and places with a sink or access to water. But you should understand that these outlets deliver a great deal of safety to you and anyone in your home, so never cut a corner and try to eliminate the use of these only slightly more expensive outlets.
What Is A GFCI Outlet?
Everyone has seen the outlets with the tiny red button in the center. The button is a reset switch for the internal circuit breaker in the outlet. When the breaker determines an imbalance in the current coming into and going out of the outlet, it trips. The purpose is strictly to prevent an electrical shock in areas with moisture.
We are all taught from a young age that water and electricity do not mix. So these added safety outlets are just another layer of protection in places that could accidentally see water crossing paths with electric current. According to the national electric code, the requirement is that every bathroom has at least one GFCI outlet. Typically, there is more than one outlet per bathroom, but that single GFCI can protect all receptacles when the outlets are wired in sequence. So as long as the GFCI is the first outlet wired in the bathroom, all others following on the same circuit will be protected.
Why Not Just Use A Circuit Breaker?
A GFCI outlet does about the same job as a circuit breaker. But, many homeowners want to know why they need to go to the added expense of installing these outlets. Below are several advantages to the GFCI outlets:
- The GFCI outlets are easier to install than an added breaker
- The GFCI outlets are more affordable than breakers – the outlet typically costs less than $20 while a breaker will be over $50
- GFCI outlets are installed in easy to reach locations which make it fast and simple to reset them – anyone in the family can push the tiny red button, but you might not want children in the electrical panel resetting a breaker
- One or more GFCI outlets adds an extra layer of protection to damp areas for more safety for you and your loved ones at a very reasonable cost.
What To Know When House Shopping
GFCI outlets can be essential to recognize when you are house shopping. These outlets have been required in houses built since 1975. So when you are looking at potential homes, a house with no GFCIs was built before that date. However, the more critical information is that the home’s electrical system has not been updated since 1975.
So if you are wondering about the condition of hidden electrical components like the wiring, it is all over 45 years old. In most cases, wiring and electrical components over 30 years old are considered outdated. So before making an offer on any property without GFCI outlets, be sure to have the electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician. Unfortunately, a general home inspector is not well versed in the issues that can plague an electrical system of this age.
To schedule an electrical inspection, call (703) 463-9866. The licensed electricians at Circuit Doctors are here to assist you. And for safety concerns, we offer 24/7 emergency service to ensure the safety of your loved ones and (703) 463-9866home.