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GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles are required by the
National Electrical Code (NEC) in kitchens, bathrooms, garages and
outdoors. They are also required and in many receptacle locations both
inside and outside the home where water is present. A GFCI will detect
even a relatively tiny amount of ground fault current and shut off
power to its face and any downstream receptacles that are connected to
First, consider whether the GFCI carries the UL listing mark
or that of some other recognized testing laboratory. For a circuit breaker
GFCI, the make and model of the panel box determine whether the GFCI will fit
the panel box. Recently, a combination light/switch/receptacle type GFCI has
become available. This is for bathrooms where the only receptacle outlet is in
the lighting fixture. A consumer can replace the light switch with a
combination switch/receptacle GFCI.
Appliances that have built-in shock protectors, as now required for
hair dryers, may not need additional GFCI protection. However, other
unprotected appliances still need GFCI protection.
With the GFCI working properly, the consumer can still be shocked.
However, the GFCI acts quickly to limit the exposure to shock and
protects against serious injury and electrocution resulting from ground
Not necessarily. The rating of 15- and 20-ampere receptacles has to do
with the rating of the load that may be connected, and may not reflect
upon the quality or capacity of the device itself. The parts of the NEC
that deal with outlet ratings (2002 NEC 210.21) treat 15- and 20-ampere
receptacles a little differently from higher-current receptacles.
If your GFCI is working properly, it will shut off power to help
prevent a hazardous ground fault condition. First, unplug the appliance
from the GFCI. Then, plug in a table lamp or small radio that you know
is working properly. Push in the RESET button on the GFCI. The lamp or
radio should turn ON. Then push the TEST button. The lamp or radio
should go OFF. If both the RESET and TEST buttons are working, the
appliance you had plugged in it is previously is damaged and a
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