GFCI breakers work by detecting improper electrical flow (a ground fault) and shutting down power to prevent injuries and fires. You can add this protection with GFCI outlets, but a protected breaker offers even more safety.
Not sure if your home is up to code? Are you in an older home and worried that old electrical issues could be dangerous for your family? Organisations such as the NFPA offer guidelines on how to prevent such events from occurring. Feel free to contact us for help installing ground fault protection at your breaker panel for a major reduction in the chance of fires and electrocution.
How GFCI Breakers Work in Lay Terms
A GFCI breaker detects whether electricity is flowing correctly on its circuit. The power should flow in a closed loop from the circuit panel to your outlets and back to a grounding point. If electricity is leaking, it will search for a different path to the earth — and that’s dangerous. That’s when you are at risk of electroshock, and your home is at risk for an electrical fire.
So, the GFCI breaker senses when there’s an electrical leak on the circuit. The moment it detects a ground fault — in other words, electricity flowing to the ground in a faulty way — the GFCI breaker trips to shut off power to the entire circuit. This measure helps to prevents your home investment from going up in smoke.
Examples of Ground Fault Protection
Wet rooms like kitchens and bathrooms need ground fault protection on the breaker or at every outlet in a risky area. Ground fault injuries and fires can occur without water being present, however. Water is just another risk factor that makes electroshock more likely.
Here are some examples of a ground fault breaker working:
- A curling iron is plugged into an outlet with faulty wiring. Without GFCI protection, a family member might get shocked when touching the curling iron, the sink, or a puddle of water in the bathroom. With GFCI protection, power gets cut off so no charge flows into the room.
- A wall outlet has frayed wires inside, and a charged wire is touching the metal receptacle box. Without GFCI protection, you could get shocked while touching the outlet and another grounded surface. Or a house fire could start from sparking inside the wall. A GFCI breaker would detect the ground fault and shut it down.
Reasons to Choose GFCI Breaker vs. GFCI Outlet
When you add ground fault protection to a breaker, everything on that circuit gets protection. The GFCI outlets commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens provide protection for just that outlet and any outlets further down the circuit.
Consider a ground fault breaker rather than individual GFCI outlets for these reasons:
- Many or all outlets on one circuit will require ground fault protection
- Some outlet locations are in tight spaces where the larger GFCI receptacles may not easily fit
- An outlet requiring GFCI protection is in a difficult to reach location, so it would be easier to reset the breaker
- GFCI breakers protect against a ground fault as well as many kinds of overloading, mis-wiring, and short circuits
For help installing ground fault circuit interrupters on your breaker panel or adding GFCI outlets throughout the home, contact us today to schedule an appointment.