Analyzing a home’s electrical system is a complex task and one that home inspectors take very seriously due to the dangerous repercussions of faulty wiring. An electrical component that is often overlooked by prospective homebuyers is the presence of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters – or GFCI outlets – and their location on the property. These devices are essential to prevent fatal electrical shocks and should be properly inspected. Let’s discuss the basics of GFCI outlets and where they belong in your home.
What are GFCI Outlets?
GFCI outlets monitor the electrical current passing through a circuit. As the name implies, a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter will immediately cut off the electricity if a ground fault is detected – meaning electricity is moving through an unintended path to the ground, such as a person’s body. Once the GFCI outlet senses an imbalance of electricity flowing into the circuit compared to that flowing out, it immediately reacts by tripping or shutting off the circuit. These devices are essential to preventing hazardous electrical mishaps.
Where Do GFCI Outlets Belong in Your Home?
Water and electricity are a dangerous combo and create a high risk of electrocution or fires. As such, home inspectors will look for GFCI outlets in the following areas of a house:
- The Bathroom: It’s vital to have GFCI outlets in the bathroom due to both water from the faucet or tub and water vapor generated from hot showers.
- Adjacent to the Water Heater: Whether the water heater is stored in your basement or garage, it’s important that surrounding outlets can protect your home in case of a leak.
- The Home’s Exterior: GFCIs are required outdoors according to the National Electrical Code. They should also have watertight covers to protect them from rain and snow.
- The Kitchen: GFCIs should be located in key areas of the kitchen, such as if the outlet is within six feet of the sink, serve a countertop, or are near the refrigerator or dishwasher.
- The Laundry Room: If outlets are located near a laundry room sink or the washing machine, they should be GFCIs.
There are several other instances a home inspector will look for GFCI outlets – such as in crawlspaces or when radiant floor heating is involved – but they will inform the prospective home buyer if they encounter an electrical concern.
If you’re buying a new home, it’s important to hire an experienced home inspector well informed about GFCI outlets and where they belong in a home. At Homeinex Corporation, our home inspectors will closely analyze a home’s electrical system and more as a part of our home inspection services. If you’re in need of a home inspection from the experts, contact us today.