Are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Really Necessary?


Electrical codes and requirements are always changing, and for good reason! These codes exist for one reason – safety. Clearly, electrical hazards aren’t to be taken lightly, and these codes should always be followed.

Electrical code requires ground fault interrupter protection in more places than ever before. If you’re building a new home or remodeling your current home, these updates are no problem. However, if you already own a home and aren’t planning a remodel anytime soon, you might be wondering if you really need to replace your old outlets with ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) outlets. Does it really make that big of a difference? The short answer? Yes.

What are GFCIs?

As mentioned above, GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. Simply put, this is a way to protect people from electrical shock. The GFCI will turn off (or interrupt) the circuit when the current is running outside of its intended path.

In the United States, a normal 120-volt outlet has two vertical slots with a round hole centered below them. The right slot is called “hot,” the left slot is called “neutral,” and the hole below them is called “ground.”

If an appliance is working properly, all electricity used by that appliance will flow from hot to neutral. The GFCI monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral and if it senses any imbalance, it automatically trips the circuit. This reaction can happen as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second. So, if electricity is flowing through anything other than the circuit (for example, through a human body), the circuit it tripped almost immediately.

Where should I have GFCIs installed?

GFCI protection is required in any areas that might be exposed to moisture. Although GFCI protection can be useful in any are of your home, rooms where water may be present, present more of an electrical hazard than dry areas.

Note that you only need ground fault interrupter protection. Because a GFCI outlet will shut off power at all outlets further down the circuit from it, you don’t necessarily need a GFCI for every outlet in a room. You can use a GFCI breaker or place a GFCI outlet as the first outlet on the circuit. An electrician will help you determine which outlets should be upgraded to GFCI.

In general, the following areas should be equipped with GFCI protection:

• Kitchens
• Near wet bar sinks
• Laundry areas
• Unfinished garages or basements
Outdoor areas

Upgrading Outlets to GFCI

Most electrical work, including upgrading outlets to GFCI, or adding a ground fault interrupter to the breaker panel should always be done by a licensed electrician. Some upgrades require a permit beforehand and an inspection afterward. An electrician will know these requirements and all local codes and be able to easily comply. Most importantly, however, by having your electrical work completed by a professional, you’ll avoid shoddy work that could be a fire hazard or injure someone.

The local licensed electricians at White’s Electrical can help you with any electrical needs you may have, both residential and commercial, including the following:

• Adding outlets
• Replacing dead outlets
• Upgrading outlets to GFCIs
• Preparation for a home inspection in the sale of a home
• Finding and repairing electrical code violations
• Electrical work for home remodels or new builds
• Upgrading electrical panels

Contact White’s Electrical today to schedule service and get up to code!

Electrical Upgrades to Make Before Your Sell Your Home

electrical upgrades

Thinking of putting your home on the market soon? If your house has an outdated electrical system or other electrical problems, it won’t stand a chance against the competition. To be sure you’ll get top dollar for your home and your buyer will be getting a quality product, consider making some electrical upgrades before you list your home for sale.

How Do I Know If I Need to Make Electrical Upgrades in My Home?

There are a few telltale signs that your home’s electrical system has seen better days. Problems like these are likely to be found during a home inspection prior to the sale. For a buyer, the discovery of these issues may cast doubt that the home has been properly cared for in other ways as well. Making these improvements before you list your home can help make sure the sale goes smoothly.

In many cases, just having a few basic improvements taken care of before your list your home can make a huge difference for a buyer who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle themselves. While many of these upgrades are subtle and wouldn’t be immediately noticed by the buyer, an inspector would certainly take note of them.

A few of these basic, yet important, improvements that could be easily addressed by a licensed electrician are the following:

• A humming or buzzing sound is coming from your circuits.
• Outlets spark or are hot to the touch.
• The same circuit breaker switch keeps flipping.
• Your lights flicker or get dimmer and brighter sporadically.
• The outlets are the older, two-prong style.
Lightbulbs in the same fixture keep blowing.
• Your home was built with aluminum wiring.
• Your home does not offer at least 200-amp service.

In addition, there are a few other upgrades you might choose to make for the sake of curb appeal or convenience.

• Add outlets indoors and outdoors.
• Upgrade light fixtures.
• Add patio or security lighting outdoors.
• Upgrade dimmer switches to support LED bulbs.
• Upgrade light switches to a more modern design.

Having a licensed electrician complete an electrical inspection before you list your home can give you a good idea of where to start with your improvements. In fact, most electricians will be able to prioritize the improvements, give you an estimate to have them completed, and even handle some of the necessary tasks during the inspection.

Schedule a Home Electrical Inspection with White’s Electrical.

By far, the best way to know if your home is meeting today’s electrical standards is to schedule an electrical inspection by a licensed professional from White’s Electrical. We’ll give you and honest assessment of your electrical upgrade needs.

Not only will making these upgrades make your home easier to sell, but they’ll make your time living in your home safer and more functional as well! Give us a call today or follow this link to schedule your inspection.

What Happens During an Electrical Inspection?

electrical home inspectionWhen most people think of an electrical inspection, they tend to think only of a home that is on the market or a home that has existing electrical issues. The truth is, though, that even a healthy electrical system should be periodically inspected.

Just as a mechanic would inspect your car for functionality and safety measures, an electrician can do the same for your home’s electrical system. Having a good idea of the age and condition of your home’s electrical system can help save a lot of time and money down the road. Part of making sure the electrical needs of your home are being met is scheduling regular electrical inspections.

What is an Electrical Inspection?

It goes without saying that the electrical system is one of the most critical elements of any home. It’s also one of the most dangerous systems of the home, particularly if there are defects that go uncorrected.

The job of an electrician during an electrical home inspection is primarily to find and note any electrical system defects. An electrical home inspection provides a thorough examination of your entire electrical system, ensuring that all electrical wires, components, and systems meet legal safety standards.

What is Included in an Electrical Inspection?

During your home’s electrical inspection, the electrician will inspect components both inside and outside the home. White’s Electrical offers a basic 15-point home electrical inspection for only $79. Some of the things an electrical home inspection from White’s Electrical may cover are the following:

  1. Remove panel cover
  2. Check termination on all wires in panel
  3. Check buss bar for damage, discoloration, or burn marks
  4. Check grounding system (two points of ground)
  5. Check wires in panel
  6. Check breakers to wire sizing
  7. Check random electrical outlets using plug tester
  8. Remove two outlets randomly to check for wiring method
  9. Check GFIs using plug tester
  10. Check for GFIs in all code required places (garage, unfinished basements, bathroom, kitchen, etc)
  11. Check all switches manually
  12. Check smoke detector operation
  13. Check smoke detectors locations to meet code (every bedroom, hallway outside of bedrooms, every floor)
  14. Check grounding on dryer, range
  15. Answer any questions or concerns you may have

Upon completion of your electrical home inspection with White’s Electrical, your electrician will provide a detailed, prioritized checklist including areas in need of immediate attention, recommendations for improvements, and upgrade possibilities. If the home is being inspected as part of a sale, a White’s Electrical electrician will be available to meet with both the buyers and sellers to review their findings and suggest improvements.

When is an Electrical Inspection Needed?

Just as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the same goes for an electrical inspection. The Electrical Safety Foundation recommends electrical home inspections:

• Upon buying a home.
• When a home is older than 40 years.
• When adding a major appliance.
• After a home has undergone a major renovation.

An electrical home inspection is important for the safety of your home and can give you peace of mind. Whether you are buying or selling a home, or just need confirmation that your home’s electrical system is functioning properly, talk to a licensed electrician at White’s Electrical today.