Are you grounded?
Article was added on Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Did you know there are different types of electrical outlets?
Each are designed for different purposes; however, there is one
specific type that stands high above the rest-the ground-fault
circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. GFCIs have saved thousands of
lives and cut the number of electrocutions in half since the 1970s.
If your home lacks GFCI outlets, don't fret-you can learn how to
GFCIs are the most efficient outlet in protecting from
electrical shock. If it senses a loss of current, the outlet
switches off power to that circuit. These devices can either be
installed in your electrical system or built into a power cord. The
third hole at the bottom of the outlet is known as the "ground"
slot, and it monitors electrical currents that flow through the
left "neutral" slot and the right "hot" slot on each outlet. A GFCI
can react faster than a blink of an eye to any imbalance of power
by immediately shutting off the electrical current. These outlets
are now a requirement in all places where water could potentially
come into contact with electrical products such as bathrooms,
garages, outdoors and kitchens. GFCIs are not exclusive to
three-prong outlets. They can be installed into standard outlets,
and there are even portable devices available when installation is
GFCIs should be tested at least once a month to ensure they are
working effectively. The first step you need to take is to test an
item, such as a lamp, that visibly powers on when plugged in. Push
the "reset" button to prepare the outlet, then push the "test"
button. Did your lamp turn off? If it did, the GFCI is working
properly. Now, hit the "reset" button once again to power it back
on. If your lamp did not power off, then you should contact a
certified electrician to correct the problem.
Next time you have a free moment, take the time to look around
your house. If you're not "grounded," consider updating your
electrical outlets to GFCIs.
Sources: Electrical Safety Foundation International, Consumer
Product Safety Commission
Amber Bentley writes on energy efficiency issues for the
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington,
Va.-based service arm of the nation's 900-plus consumer-owned,
not-for-profit electric cooperatives.
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