GFCI outlet

SLK001

Joined Nov 29, 2011
1,548
What is a GFCI outlet? Do I need an electrician to install a GFCI it or can I just do a DIY job?
Tough question to answer about the DIY aspect...

Do you know where your electrical panel is?
Can you turn off the correct circuit?
Can you tell a black wire from a white wire from a ground wire?
Can you read and understand the instructions for installing a GFCI?
Is the circuit going to be daisy chained?
Can you get behind the wheel and drive a screwdriver?

If you answered "yes" to all these questions, then you might be a DIY candidate for correctly installing your outlet.
 

kubeek

Joined Sep 20, 2005
5,751
I don´t know where you live, but in most of the civilized world you need a trained professional for anything to do with electricity beyond the normal user level.
I also don´t know what specific kind of wiring is in your house, but it should not be too complicated provided that the outlet is approved for your market and you connect it the way the manufacturer tells you to.
 

sagor

Joined Mar 10, 2019
423
In some jurisdictions, you need an electrical permit to install (or change) a GFCI. Or, you need a licensed electrician to do the work.
In other areas, one is allowed to replace defective GFCI without permits, but not make a new installation.
Thus, the rules vary a lot. Check with your local building permit authority and ask if you need any permits for this work.
As others point out, if you are not sure, get a professional to do it. Doing something wrong yourself can be dangerous or even cause a fire. In some cases, a DIY electrical job without permits may void your house insurance if it burns down. Insurance companies look for any excuse not to pay out....
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
22,857
On the ones I have fitted there is a Test and a Reset button, in order to check trip validity.
It essentially simulates a fault on the outlet .
Max.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
8,467
In some jurisdictions, you need an electrical permit to install (or change) a GFCI. Or, you need a licensed electrician to do the work.
In other areas, one is allowed to replace defective GFCI without permits, but not make a new installation.
Thus, the rules vary a lot. Check with your local building permit authority and ask if you need any permits for this work.
As others point out, if you are not sure, get a professional to do it. Doing something wrong yourself can be dangerous or even cause a fire. In some cases, a DIY electrical job without permits may void your house insurance if it burns down. Insurance companies look for any excuse not to pay out....
If you are the homeowner and do not live in a POLICE STATE you are generally allowed to do your own electrical repairs. And it is far better, if you know what you are doing, to avoid the involvement of local inspectors, who typically are those individuals who were unable to earn a living in a business and instead went to work for the municipal government.
The actual installation of a GFCI is best done with the power switched OFF.
With the power to that outlet switched off, remove the cover plate and observe the connections to the outlet. If there is a single black wire to a screw terminal on one side and a single white wire to a screw terminal on the opposite side the task will be simple and easy. Usually there is a set of instructions included that cover that specific style, and since there are different styles the steps differ a bit. The one very important thing that is common to all is that the incoming power connection MUST be to the terminals identified as "LINE". There is usually another set of terminals and I recommend NEVER connecting anything to them. GFCI outlets are now cheap enough to install a separate one at each outlet where protection is required. connecting them in a string is a poor choice.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
22,857
There is usually another set of terminals and I recommend NEVER connecting anything to them. GFCI outlets are now cheap enough to install a separate one at each outlet where protection is required. connecting them in a string is a poor choice.
I find it useful in cases where powered outside yard tools are used, wiring in a string fashion in different points in my yard, I can go from one to the other without using a huge extension cord length.
All daisy chained off the first.
Really no different than one fitted in a breaker panel that supplies a few outlets..
Max.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
7,279
A GFCI outlet compares the current coming into someplace (like the AC outlet in your bathroom) with the current going out of that place. If they are different the outlet assumes that the current went out through ground, and probably somebody's body, so it shuts off the connection to the incoming power line. This usually has a threshold of 15 milliamps to 50 milliamps.

There are breakers for individual outlets and also whole house GFCI breakers as well as some systems that share on GFCI breaker for two or more bathrooms. We are talking about your life. Your best bet is to get a competent electrician to install the protection.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
8,467
I find it useful in cases where powered outside yard tools are used, wiring in a string fashion in different points in my yard, I can go from one to the other without using a huge extension cord length.
All daisy chained off the first.
Really no different than one fitted in a breaker panel that supplies a few outlets..
Max.
The problem is that when the GFCI trips and other outlets switch off it may not be obvious until the refrigerator has warmed up and the food has spoiled. AND, I serviced a rental property where the GFCI for an outside outlet had tripped and the result was that a number of inside lights stopped working. That took a bit of sleuthing to find the culprit. And the nastiest of all was where the GFCI for an electrical heating tape tripped and so the pipe outside froze and burst.

But the one with the refrigerator was the stupidest one.
Thus my suggestion of never using those terminals.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
22,857
The problem is that when the GFCI trips and other outlets switch off it may not be obvious until the refrigerator has warmed up and the food has spoiled.
But the one with the refrigerator was the stupidest one.
Thus my suggestion of never using those terminals.
My point was there are practical exceptions. refrigerators are different.
Dedicated circuits are required by the National Electrical Code (Canada Included) for major electrical appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, space heaters, and more. They ensure enough power is available so that appliances can operate safely, without overloading the system.
I always observe the above according to code as I am obliged to!
The example I showed earlier would cause trivial effect if the primary one tripped.
Max.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
3,252
Typical GFI requirements are outlets located Outside, inside enclosed Garage (gas fumes) or within 6' of a water spigot. 40 years ago it was a panel breaker GFI which I would not recommend, now it is the GFCI receptacle itself.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
22,857
Typical GFI requirements are outlets located Outside, inside enclosed Garage (gas fumes) or within 6' of a water spigot. 40 years ago it was a panel breaker GFI which I would not recommend, now it is the GFCI receptacle itself.
Also washroom/bathrooms and in a Kitchen if within 6ft of a source of water, (Sink etc).
Max.
 

kubeek

Joined Sep 20, 2005
5,751
Typical GFI requirements are outlets located Outside, inside enclosed Garage (gas fumes) or within 6' of a water spigot. 40 years ago it was a panel breaker GFI which I would not recommend, now it is the GFCI receptacle itself.
OP hasn´t indulged us yet to where he is living. In EU by the latest revision of the standard, GFI protection (now usually referred to as RCD), in residential areas has to be on all outlets <32A accesible by laymen (except dedicated outlets like a fridge), and all light fixtures, and very much preferably not the same single RCD for everything.
 
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