By: Sharrod Parker, Risk Control Leader
Gound-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
GFCIs are electronic devices designed to shut-off power when they detect a common type of electrical shock hazard called a ground-fault.
In 1968, the electrical code only required GFCI protected receptacles for swimming pool, underwater lighting fixtures.
In 2017, they became a requirement in all residential bathrooms, garages, outdoor locations, crawl spaces, unfinished portions of basements, kitchens and within six feet of sinks, bathtubs or shower stalls, boathouses and laundry areas.
Best Practice: Testing
Follow your manufacturer’s testing instructions. They are usually as simple as:
- Push the test button
- Listen for a “click” that indicates the unit has tripped and is working correctly
- Push the “reset” button
That’s all it takes to assure a GFCI is functional and will provide protection from ground-fault related shocks. GFCI circuit-breakers in the electrical panel also have test and reset buttons.
It’s best to test an outdoor GFCI before each use to make sure it works properly. Outdoor GFCIs are more likely to fail because of weather exposure. Also, the outdoor use of power tools creates an increased risk of cutting cords.
As of 2017, the electrical code requires outdoor residential GFCIs to be rated as tamper-resistant (TR) and weather resistant (WR).
The tamper-resistant rating prevents a child from sticking conductive objects into the slots. The weather-resistant rating requires a device that can withstand exposure to cold, water, insects and other exterior contaminants.
Older-style covers, like in the photo above, are no longer acceptable for new installations. New installations must have heavy-duty covers that close and remain waterproof when cords are plugged in.