by Todd Ellner
November 8, 2016 Home Maintenance

Receptacles are outlets installed in water prone areas of a house. They are usually installed using a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

While you may not intersect with electrical receptacles on a daily basis around the house, it is very important that you understand what these are and how they help you have a safer home.

What is a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter)?

A “ground-fault” is an unintentional flow of electricity between a source of electrical current and a grounded surface. Electrical shock can occur if a person comes into contact with an energised part – that’s why electricity circuits require additional protection.

A GFCI receptacle constantly monitors the electrical circuit in your home. If it detects even a slight flow of electricity to a grounded item, it immediately shuts off. This protects people from electrocution.

A GFCI receptacle constantly monitors the electrical circuit in your home. (tweet this!)

When are GFCI receptacles required?

Nowadays, these outlets are designed to shut off in case a water incident occurs. When the outlet shuts off, this is indicated by a red light. Resetting them is simple: just push the button above the red light (watch the video above for details).

Originally, GFCI receptacles were required only at the exterior of the house. When they were first used around 1971, the receptacles were located nearby swimming pools.

Over the years, the NEC (National Electric Code) required protection in more and more locations around the house:

  • Bathrooms
  • Garages (and also accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level)
  • Outdoors
  • Crawl spaces — at or below grade level
  • Unfinished basements
  • Kitchens— where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces
  • Sinks — located in areas other than kitchens
  • Boathouses

When should you test GFCIs?

According to NEC, GFCIs should be tested monthly to see if they work properly. They are electronic devices and therefore can be damaged or wear out without previous notice.


GFCIs should be installed in areas where appliances and power tools are used near a water source. Tap water and wet objects conduct electricity very easily. Therefore, security measures must be taken in order to ensure your and your family’s safety.

Learn more about the importance of GFCI receptacles by contacting one of our team members today: call 908-206-4659(FREE) or send us a message.

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