GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, and these are normally found in the home in the form of circuit breakers, located in the home's breaker box. However, electrical outlets can also be GFCIs. Both types make electrical circuits automatically switch off if there is a short or power surge somewhere in the circuit that it is connected to, consequently stopping the user from receiving an electric shock if they touch the outlet during the surge/short occurrence.
GFCI Circuit Breakers Amp Ratings
GFCI circuit breakers are each rated by the number of amps they will allow the circuit to which they are connected, to utilize at any one time. For instance, a 20 amp circuit breaker will only allow 20 amps or less of power to be used. If appliances are plugged into the circuit and collectively draw more than 20 amps, the GFCI circuit breaker will automatically switch off (trip).
Testing GFCI Circuit Breakers
Each GFCI circuit breaker has an on/off switch on its front that can be manually turned to switch off the breaker in case work needs to be carried out on the circuit. This switch also enables the breaker to be turned back on after it has tripped. Each GFCI circuit breaker also has a "Test" button, which when pressed turns off the breaker. The on/off switch is then turned to "off" then "on," to turn the breaker back on. This should be done periodically to check that the breaker is working properly.
Terminal Connections on GFCI Circuit Breakers
The circuit breaker has terminal connections marked "line power" and "load neutral," as well as a coiled wire that attaches to the breaker box's neutral bar.
GFCI Receptacles Overview
GFCI receptacles are required by code to be installed in areas where there is a high use of water, such as kitchens, bathrooms, utility rooms and outside areas. These receptacles come in different sizes, depending on the power requirements of the appliances that will be plugged into them.
Testing GFCI Receptacles
Each GFCI receptacle has a TEST and RESET button. Press the TEST button to turn off the unit to make sure the switching off (tripping) device in the GFCI is working properly. Press the RESET button to turn it back on. This quick test should be done at least every six months, or when there may be a problem with the GFCI outlet.
Terminal Connections on GFCI Receptacles
The back of each GFCI receptacle has terminal connections marked LINE for incoming wires from the power source, and also terminal connections marked LOAD for outgoing wires to the next receptacle in the circuit.