A ground fault circuit interrupter, called a GFCI or GFI, is an inexpensive electrical
device that can either be installed in your electrical system or built into a power cord to
protect you from severe electrical shocks. These devices have played a key role in reducing
electrocutions. Greater use of GFCIs could further reduce electrocutions and mitigate
thousands of electrical burn and shock injuries still occurring in and around the home
each year.

GFCIs are manufactured as receptacle type, circuit breaker type, or portable.  Circuits requiring this protection is designated by the National Electrical Code (NEC) which is updated every 3 years.  Take a look at GFCI location requirements have evolved over the years based on NEC requirements:

  • Underwater pool lighting (since 1968)
  • Receptacles:
    Outdoors (since 1973)
    Bathrooms (since 1975)
    Garages (since 1978)
    Kitchens (since 1987)
    Crawl spaces and unfinished basements (since 1990)
    Wet bar sinks (since 1993)
    Laundry and utility sinks (since 2005)

We should also consider using portable GFCIs for electrical tools around the home.  Examples would include electric garden equipment, saws, drills, and sanders.  When replacing older ungrounded two wire receptacles with a new GFCI, remember to label the receptacle “NO EQUIPMENT GROUND GFCI PROTECTED” to identify that the receptacle is not grounded.

How/When to test a GFCI:

After installation
At least once a month
After a power failure
When in doubt or have further questions about testing GFCIs, refer to the manufacturer or manufacturer’s  instructions for further reference.