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Don’t Be Shocked (Electrically, That Is)

Don’t Be Shocked (Electrically, That Is)

An electrical shock may simply cause a minor jolt; but it can also be fatal!  Fortunately, there is an easy way to help prevent shocks – by installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) that detect potentially dangerous ground faults and quickly shut off the power.

Most local communities follow the National Electrical Code issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (http://www.nfpa.org).  These are summarized below.

Dwelling Locations
All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the following locations should shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection.
•    Bathrooms
•    Garages
•    Outdoors
•    Crawl spaces — at or below grade level
•    Unfinished basements
•    Kitchens — where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces
•    Laundry, utility and wet bar sinks — where the receptacles are installed within six feet (6′) of the outside edge of the sink
•    Boathouses

Other hazards
GFCI’s should be used whenever operating:
•    Electrically powered garden equipment (mower, hedge trimmer, edger, etc.)
•    Electric tools (drills, saws, sanders, etc.).

In contemporary homes, schools, park districts, health clubs, etc., there may be other areas where GFCIs would be required, such as:
•    Near swimming pools
•    Pool houses
•    Near hot tubs and whirlpools
•    In greenhouses
•    Near water supplies.

Older or historic buildings, should upgrade with GFCIs and revise wiring, outlets and indoor and outdoor light fixtures.

Testing GFCIs
GFCIs should be tested after installation and then monthly to make sure they are working properly and are protecting you from fatal shock.

To test the GFCI receptacle, first plug a light into the outlet. The light should be on, and then press the “TEST” button on the GFCI. The GFCIs “RESET” button should pop out, and the light should go out.

If the “RESET” button pops out but the light does not go out, the GFCI has been improperly wired. Contact a qualified electrician to correct the wiring errors.

If the “RESET” button does not pop out, the GFCI is defective and should be replaced.

If the GFCI is functioning properly, and the light goes out, press the “RESET” button to restore power to the outlet and the light should go back on.

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*Based on research conducted January - August 2016