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SPECIAL REPORT:         GFCI  GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS

Ground fault circuit interrupters are special receptacles or circuit breakers that reduce the risk of serious shock in hazardous locations. Receptacles installed outside, near sinks, or above concrete floors pose a greater risk of serious shock because you are well grounded in these areas.

GFCI's monitor the electricity flowing through the ungrounded and grounded wires and should trip in 1/40 of a second if they sense  5/1000 of an amp difference in current. This protects you from a serious shock.

To improve the safety of these receptacles in hazardous areas, GFCI receptacles can be purchased for $10.00 each and installed in the existing outlet box. The GFCI also will protect the older two wires, two pin ungrounded electrical systems. When installing GFCI's, it is important to have the line and the load wires connected properly. If they are reversed, the GFCI will trip when you press the test button, but it will not trip when a 7/1000 of an amp cross current is applied. One properly wired GFCI will protect that receptacle and the other receptacles further down the line on that circuit.

GFCI circuit breakers are often installed in the main electrical panel to protect a complete circuit. All GFCI devices should have their test button pushed to trip the breaker once a month. If this is neglected, the receptacle will still work, but it may not trip if it senses a ground fault. Replacement GFCI circuit breakers cost approximately $60.00 plus installation.


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