Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are special circuit breakers that can break circuits within 1/40th of a second and mitigate the risk of electrocuting the user. When it comes to electrical safety measures, you can’t ever go wrong with a GFCI—it’s also recommended that you install them in outlets near water sources to prevent short circuits. To understand the importance of GFCIs, we should know what ground faults are, how they occur, and what the GFCI does to prevent it.

The Losses from Electrocutions in the US

According to statistics by OSHA, 125 people die from electrocutions every year—a large portion of these deaths happened because of faults caused by water leaks into the circuitry.  Other sources say that electrocutions cause nearly $430 million worth of damages in households annually. It should also be noted that the majority of electrocutions are put down to ground faults, which GFCIs can easily prevent.

Since an average GFCI costs a few dollars, it’s just safer to invest in one and completely eradicate the risk of damages from ground faults. Especially in Massachusetts, with its hurricane season blackouts and power surges, GFCIs can save you a lot of money.

What is a Ground Fault and How Does a GFCI Help?

GFCI Help

The typical electrical circuit running through the house has three main wires—the Hot, Neutral, and the Ground wires. The functions each wire serves are:

  • The Hotwire carries electric current from the transformer, through your panel and to your appliances. These are usually red, white, or black.
  • The Neutralwire carries current back from the appliances, to the panel box where it fuses with the ground wire. Are always white.
  • The Groundwire is connected to the metal parts of your appliances to provide the path of least resistance if the hot wires touch them. The ground wire diverts the current away from the person touching the live metal parts in such an event.

Sometimes, the hot wire comes in contact with the ground wire to make it live too—in this situation, if you touch the metal part of an appliance, you will be electrocuted.

How Does the GFCI Stop Ground Faults?

A GFCI constantly measures the currents flowing through the hot, neutral, and ground wires to check if the current flow is balanced. Ideally, when you don’t have a ground fault in your circuits, the neutral wire carries as much current out as the amount that flowed in through the hot wire. If any of this current is diverted into the ground wire, the neutral wire will show lower current readings than the hot wire—the GFCI will pick on this and trip to break the circuit.

Instead of letting the current flow through the ground wire, the GFCI breaks the electrical flow and prevents electrocution injuries. It does this almost instantaneously and prevents thousands of deaths across the US every year.

Since electrocutions present significant risks to appliance users and cause major damage, both economic and physical, GFCIs become an integral part of any electrical safety plan. If you don’t have one installed, you should call an electrician immediately to replace your circuits with ones that have GFCIs installed.

Call Integrity Electrical Services Today!

Integrity Electrical Services has worked in Wilmington, MA, for the past 20 years delivering 24-hour emergency electrician services to the community. We are a household name throughout the region, completing all sorts of electrical jobs like power surge protection, GFCI installations, lighting installations, electrical generator maintenance, and more. Call us today to hire us for your electrical projects in Wilmington