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Where are GFCI Outlets Required?

Electricity is a blessing of our age, but it can be very dangerous when people ignore safety requirements. One of these requirements is the presence of ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles or GFCI outlets in our homes. 

While new homes are equipped with safer outlets, the problem persists with older houses. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation (ESFI), over 40 million American homes don’t have GFCI outlets in rooms with proximity to water. It means that many people are at risk of potential electrocution. While GFCIs are not mandatory for older homes built in the 1970s, we highly recommend installing them in “wet” areas.   

Here is RG Electric’s guide on the important information about GFCI outlets. 

What is a grounding?

You probably know that electricity flows through a hot and grounding wire. When you plug in a device, electricity circulates from the source to the device. Another grounding wire connects the device to the earth through a grounding rod to protect people from potential shock if a ground fault occurs. 

What is a ground fault?
A ground fault occurs when electricity takes an unplanned route to the ground. This route doesn’t provide for any resistance; as a result, the flow of charge rises drastically. Instead of running through a ground cord, it may come across a different conductor, a human or animal, and cause life-threatening shock. The risk of electrocution even increases in “wet” rooms, such as bathrooms or kitchens, because water is a great conductor of electricity. 

Ground fault key takeaways: 

  • A ground fault is a result of the electrical discharge running through the unintended route outside the circuit; 
  • When this occurs, the flow of electricity increases dramatically;  
  • Ground faults cause circuit breakers to trip and stop the flow of electricity; 
  • A ground fault is very dangerous and can lead to electrocution and fire hazards. 

How Do GFCI Outlets Protect?

Unlike regular outlets, GFCIs are designed to prevent these accidents. The two outlets also differ visually. A regular one usually has two or three plug-in holes, while a GFCI outlet has the same number of slots with two additional buttons – “Test” and “Reset.” 

When a GFCI outlet detects a stray flow of current or ground fault, its internal switch blocks the flow in the outlet. A person still may experience a shock but is unlikely to be injured or killed. A standard outlet neither has a sensor to detect stray flow nor a switch to shut off the flow of electricity. Too often, when current leakage occurs, a GFCI outlet won’t reset

Where to Install GFCI Outlets? 

Under the National Electric Code (NEC), GFCI outlets must be installed in new constructions in rooms where electrical outlets are located close to water. These areas are:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen (countertops) 
  • Laundry rooms
  • Basements (with sinks)
  • Garages
  • Patios
  • Outdoor dining areas
  • Exterior outlets 
  • Crawlspaces
  • Pool and hot-tube spaces 

GFCI Outlet Requirements 

GFCI protection is a must for any 125 to 250-volt outlets connected to single-phase circuits that operate under 150 volts to the ground. 

The last NEC update on electrical standards came in 2020, and it stated that HVAC equipment also should be protected with GFCIs, including indoor service equipment that needs a spacious place. 

Call a Los Angeles Electrician to Get GFCI Outlets Installed

RG Electric constantly stays in the loop of the latest NEC guidelines. Even if you live in an older home, we strongly recommend including GFCI outlets in the areas mentioned above. We offer expertise in repairing and installing various electrical systems throughout Los Angele county. Live in a safer home with RG Electric.

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