Saturday, June 29, 2013

GFCI Outlet

What it is?
                         GFCI OUTLET

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.

Where it is required?

GFCI outlets in Ontario are required in kitchen, washrooms, laundry room within 1.5 meters (5 feet) of the water source (edge of sink, vanity, tub, laundry sink). Furthermore, they are required on the outside of the house. They are recommended as a safety upgrade but not required in the garage of the house.

How they operate?

GFCI outlet is a very sensitive devise which can detect minor variation in the current flowing between hot and neutral slots. If there is an imbalance in the current flow it trips the circuit. It is able to sense a mismatch as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, and its reaction time is as quick as one-thirteenth of a second.
To better understand its function I always explain my clients during Home Inspection like this. Suppose we are playing a passing a ball game, and I throw towards you a ball weighing a 50 grams. Then you are also supposed to pass me back the same ball weighing 50 grams. If for some reason the ball you threw back was 40 grams, then the 10 grams is getting dissipated or disappearing in thin air somewhere. The GFCI outlet measures the difference in the amount of current supplied and returned and if there is a difference it trips the circuit to prevent the person from shock.

How to test it?
                         GFCI TESTER
During Home Inspection I test all GFCI outlets using a GFCI tester. GFCI tester is a devise which creates a condition or difference in the incoming and the outgoing current by press of the test button. GFCI outlet trips the circuit and then needs to be reset by pressing the reset button on the outlet
I advise Home Owners to test their GFCI outlets every month by pressing the test button on the outlet itself.

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