How to Wire a GFI in a Bathroom

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A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI or GFCI) outlet is required for electrical outlets in areas near water, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Your standard bathroom electrical outlet can easily be replaced by a GFI outlet. This will help bring your bathroom up to current building codes, improve the resale value of your home, and enhance your safety when using bathroom electrical appliances.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flat)
  • Wire strippers with cutter
  • GFI outlet
  • Outlet cover plate with large opening
  • Turn off the circuit breaker that powers your bathroom outlet and set up a flashlight to illuminate your work area if you don't have enough natural light.

  • Take your current outlet cover plate off by removing the screw that holds it in place. Set it aside. Remove the positioning screws from the outlet sockets so you can pull the socket out of the junction box.

  • Loosen all of the side screws on the current outlet and pull it free of the wires. Set the old outlet aside or throw it away.

  • Check the ends of the wires. If they appear to be in good condition (not blackened and no melted insulation), use them as is. If they are damaged, cut off the damaged portion with your wire stripper's cutting edge, then strip the insulation off the last 1/2 inch of the end of each wire to reveal the bare copper or aluminum strands.

  • Bend a hook in the end of each wire. Hook the black wire that feeds power into the junction box over the brass screw labeled "Line" (generally the bottom set) on your new GFI outlet, then tighten the screw. Hook the white wire that feeds power to the box over the bottom silver screw and tighten that down as well. If this is the final box on your circuit, you can leave the top set of screws (marked "Load") open. If you have wires that run out of your junction box into other outlets or light switches, attach the black wire to the load's brass screw and the white wire to the load's silver screw.

  • Hook the ground wire (bare copper or insulated with green coating) over the grounding screw (again, copper or green) on your GFI outlet and tighten the screw.

  • Press the GFI outlet into the junction box and tighten it in place with the provided screws.

  • Install a new cover plate with enough opening to fit over the new GFI outlet and to allow access to the test button on the outlet's face. This plate will include screws to attach it to your GFI outlet and junction box.

  • Turn the circuit breaker that powers your outlet back on and press the "Reset" button on your GFI outlet. It is now ready for use.

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References

  • Photo Credit electric outlet image by Dawn Williams from Fotolia.com
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