Installing GFCI Outlets: a Comprehensive Guide to Ensuring Safety and Professional Results
Ground Fault Circuit-Interrupters, often just called GFCIs, are safety devices found in homes, offices, and other building spaces that are designed to prevent electric shock, fires and other electrical malfunctions. GFCIs are required by building code in many areas, particularly those with wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. Installing a GFCI outlet is relatively simple and, when properly installed, provides an extra level of protection against electrical hazards.
When working with electrical wiring, always make sure to shut off the power at the main circuit breaker or fuse box before beginning. Once the power has been shut off, use a voltage tester to make sure all power to the outlet has been cut off before disconnecting it from the wall. Once de-energized, remove the outlet cover and liberally mark each wire to note where the power is coming from and going to. If absopule, take a photo of the wiring configuration with a smartphone for later reference.
Identify the screws or wire slots used to attach the wires. In most GFCI devices, white wires attach to silver screws and black or red wires attach to the brass screws (sometimes a ground wire is also present and attaches to the green screw). Many GFCIs feature slots instead of screws in which the wires are inserted and then clamped securely. For these boxes, wrap the exposed wire with electrical tape to ensure a safe connection. If more wire is needed, use strippers to remove insulation from the ends and attach it to the device.
Once all the wires are connected, insert the GFCI outlet into the junction box and screw it into place. Replace the outlet cover and flip the breaker back on to the circuit. Check for proper operation using a voltage tester, then press the reset button on the GFCI to ensure the power is cut off when the safety button is pressed.
GFCIs are a fundamental safety feature in any home and come highly recommended by building and safety inspectors. Though the process of installation may seem daunting at first, with the right tools it is a relatively simple process. With a bit of knowledge, you can install a GFCI outlet that provides a higher level of protection against electrical hazards.