Test Your Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

Most homes built since the 1970s have a GFCI in their kitchen and bathrooms. GFCIs appear similar to standard electrical receptacles, but also have “test” and “reset” buttons.

An estimated 400 million ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) have been installed across the country. Their built-in test buttons should be used every month and after electrical storms, according to the National Electrical Safety Foundation (NESF).

GFCIs are designed to minimize shock and reduce the chances of electrocution. “GFCIs have probably saved hundreds of lives and prevented thousands of serious injuries,” said Walt Biddle, executive director of NESF. “An improperly installed or non-functioning GFCI offers no protection against accidental shock. All these devices must be tested regularly to verify that they are working correctly.”

To test a GFCI: plug a night light into the outlet; push the “Reset” button; turn on the light; push the “Test” button—the light should go off; push the “Reset” button again. The light should go on.

If the light remains on when the reset button is pushed, a qualified electrician should inspect and if necessary, replace the unit.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety in the home, school, and workplace. To commemorate National Electrical Safety Month, ESFI spearheads an annual campaign each May to educate key audiences about the steps that can be taken in order to reduce the number of electrically-related fires, fatalities, injuries, and property loss. For more information about ESFI and National Electrical Safety Month, visit www.esfi.org.