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GFCI 101: Why Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Are Important to You

When you consider the amount of electricity that courses through a standard residential electrical line, it's surprising more people don't get painful or even deadly shocks while handling defective electrical cords and appliances. Much of the credit for this not happening with greater frequency goes to the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs play an important role in preventing electric shocks and electrocutions in residential and business settings.

What's a Ground Fault?

This occurs when electricity unintentionally completes a connection between a power source and a surface that's grounded. This is most likely to occur when lamps, appliances or electronics are defective or have been damaged in some way that eliminates standard protection against electrical contact with a human or animal. The person's body then provides the path between the electricity and the ground, resulting in a severe burn, shock, and even lethal electrocution.

What Is a GFCI?

Protection against ground faults is built into GFCI circuit breakers and receptacles that get installed in residential and business electrical systems. They're especially important for outlets in areas near sources of water. Even if ground fault protection isn't installed in the actual circuit, portable GFCIs are available for onsite fault protection.

How Does It Work?

A GFCI continuously keeps track of electrical current flowing through a circuit. If that incoming current differs even by a small amount from the returning current, the GFCI (remember, "I" is for "interrupter") quickly interrupts the electrical current to prevent injury or worse. Ground fault circuit interrupters don't just prevent shocks and electrocution; they also can prevent fires or make fire less serious than it might have been otherwise. 

To make sure your Gulf Coast Florida home's electrical system is protected by ground fault circuit interrupters, check out Luminous Electric's certified electricians. We offer superior electrical repair, installation, and maintenance in Sarasota and other nearby communities. In Sarasota-Manatee County, please call us at (800) 956-8532.

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