Do you know what GFCIs are?

This Home Inspector has described in detail what a GFCI is and the importance of having them in your home.

Q: We’re buying a home and we heard we need to check for GFCIs on our power outlets. What is this and why is it important?

A: The term GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter.

A GFCI receptacle is very different from a conventional outlet. When activated, or during a ground fault (where electricity takes the path of least resistance and passes through one’s body to the ground), the GFCI will quickly trip and stop the flow of electricity to the outlet. So essentially, it is a safety device that prevents injury from electric shock.

Since approximately 2009 they are required in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages or any outside locations, such as patios, balconies and decks. Simply put, they should be installed in close proximity to any water source.

GFCI outlets can be identified by the “TEST” and “RESET” buttons in the centre of the receptacle. Most people carry out their lives without ever testing these outlets.  However, it is a good idea to test all GFCIs at least once a month by pressing the TEST button. When it clicks or trips press the RESET to restore power to that outlet.

There are GFCIs on breaker panels as well. They have one rectangular button (usually orange, blue, red or white) and are connected to a breaker. When the “TEST” button has been tripped or tested, the breaker moves to the middle. It must then be manually pushed back into the original position to restore the power.

If it does not “reset” or restore the power then the GFCI will need to be replaced.

Note: It is important to know that a GFCI receptacle offers no protection against circuit overloads, shocks or short circuits. This means that you can still be shocked if you touch a bare wire (one that is not protected by sheathing) while standing on a non-conducting surface, such as wood floor. So always be careful when working around electricity.

Good luck and be safe.


Before going into real estate in 2001, I worked in the medical field. Found it very rewarding helping others and decided to make a switch and help those, who want to achieve the "American Dream". As a homeowner, I know the importance of home ownership and nothing gives me more pleasure than to place those keys into the hands of a new homeowner. I look forward to helping you, with all your real estate needs.

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