It looks like the outlet got wet and now it won’t turn on.

A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is an electrical safety device designed to protect people from electric shock and prevent electrical fires. The primary function of a GFCI is to quickly interrupt the flow of electricity when it detects a ground fault or leakage of current to the ground.

Here’s how a GFCI works:

  1. Current Monitoring: A GFCI constantly monitors the flow of electrical current between the hot (live) wire and the neutral wire in a circuit. In a properly functioning circuit, the amount of current flowing out on the hot wire should be equal to the amount of current returning on the neutral wire.
  2. Detecting Ground Faults: If there is a ground fault, such as a leakage of current to the ground due to a damaged appliance, faulty wiring, or a person coming into contact with live wires, the GFCI detects an imbalance in the current flow. Even a small imbalance, such as a few milliamperes, can trigger the GFCI.
  3. Interrupting Power: Once a ground fault is detected, the GFCI reacts quickly by tripping a built-in circuit breaker. This action interrupts the flow of electricity, cutting off power to the protected circuit within milliseconds. By doing so, the GFCI prevents electric shocks and reduces the risk of electrical fires.

GFCIs are commonly used in areas where water and electricity are in close proximity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor outlets, and garages. The presence of water increases the likelihood of ground faults, making GFCIs crucial for enhancing electrical safety.

Key features of GFCIs include:

  • Test Button: GFCIs typically have a “Test” button that allows users to manually test the device. Pressing the Test button simulates a ground fault and should cause the GFCI to trip. After testing, users can reset the GFCI by pressing the “Reset” button.
  • Reset Button: The “Reset” button is used to restore power after a GFCI has tripped due to a ground fault. If a GFCI trips, it’s important to investigate and address the underlying cause before resetting it.
  • Installation Locations: GFCIs can be installed in electrical outlets or as part of circuit breakers in the electrical panel. Code requirements may specify where GFCIs should be installed to meet safety standards.

Overall, GFCIs play a crucial role in preventing electric shocks and protecting against electrical hazards in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. They are an essential component of electrical safety systems.