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GFCIs / Ground Fault Circuit Interruptors

One of the biggest advances in electrical safety in recent years has been the use of ground fault circuit interruptors, or GFCIs. These "smart outlets" look like a regular three prong outlet wall plate with two additional buttons, but have special circuitry that instantly cuts off electricity if a short circuit, like those caused by water or a break in insulation, is detected. They're most valuable where electric outlets or appliances are close to water- bathrooms, kitchens, laundrie rooms, outdoors.
 
GFCIs can turn what could have been a serious injury or house fire into a relative nothing- a temporary loss of power. After correcting the problem, you can press the reset button on the GFCI wall plate and power is restored.
 
Because they're so effective and inexpensive, Wisconsin's electrical code now requires GFCIs in new construction at many spots around the house. The heading at right has a complete list. Any property you're thinking of selling has to be upgraded to meet code requirements also. But they're such a smart, cost-effective way of making homes safer and protecting from loss that many people upgrade to them whether required or not. If you think you might want them, give us a call!
GFCI-before
GFCI-after
test button
reset button
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Locations Required to Have GFCIs


Residential Commercial
Accessory Buildings

Bathrooms

Bathrooms; Drinking Fountains
Boat Hoists Carnivals, Fairs
Crawl Spaces Commercial Garages
Garages Construction Sites
Kitchen Countertops Kitchens
Laundry Rooms Marinas
Outdoor Outlets  Outdoor Outlets
Swimming Pools Rooftops
Unfinished Basements Sinks
Hot Tubs Swimming Pools
Wet Bar Sinks Temporary Installationsa
  Trailer & RV Parks
 

Vending Machines

  Hot Tubs
From National Electrical Code 2005 (used by WI)
GFCI receptacles in bathrooms prevent accidents. Therefore, 210.8(A)(1) requires that all 125-volt, single-phase 15- and 20- ampere receptacles in bathrooms have GFCI protection, including receptacles that are integral with luminaires and, of course, wall-mounted receptacles adjacent to the basin. Note that there are no exceptions to the bathroom GGFCI requirement.
 
Recognizing that sinks at wet bars are not the only locations where a ground fault shock hazard exists, this requirement also covers sinks in laundry and utility areas. This change to the 2005 code brought GFCI protection to all areas in a dwelling unit in which a sink is installed. The text of this requirement does not limit the GFCI requirement to receptacles serving countertop surfaces; rather, it covers all 125-volt, 15- and 20- ampere receptacles that are within 6 ft. of any point along the outside edge of the sink. Many appliances used in these locations are ungrounded, and the presence of water and grounded surfaces contributes to a hazardous environment.