You don’t need to drop a curling iron in the bathtub for a ground fault to occur. Anytime a hot wire makes contact with a ground wire or grounded object, you have a ground fault. Instead of flowing safely through the hot or neutral wire, you have electricity flowing to the wrong place.
The common reason for GFCI protection is to avoid people getting shocked. That’s why our bathrooms and kitchens have outlets that shut off the circuit when they detect a fault. Someone could be seriously injured by touching an appliance or any bit of metal that’s in contact with a fault.
Beyond that risk, an electrical fault can also damage property and appliances. The stray voltage might cause a fire, burn wiring, or fry an electronic device.
Causes of Ground Faults
Most of the time our Santa Rosa electricians see a fault, the problem has to do with damage to either the outlet wiring or a particular appliance.
In no particular order, the common causes of ground faults include:
- Missing wire insulation
- Frayed or decayed insulation
- Water leaks inside the electrical housing
- Appliances in contact with water
- Old appliances with damaged wiring
- Pest damage to electrical system
- Improper outlet wiring
Why Wet Areas Need GF Protection
Bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, outdoor spaces, and other potentially wet areas all require GF protection according to the NEC.
If a plugged-in appliance drops into water, a ground fault interrupter can sense the danger because the appropriate voltage is not flowing to the correct path.
If you are wet or standing on water, an electrical fault is more likely to occur and shock you.
Finally, moisture poses a major factor in the degradation of wire jackets, connectors, and other electrical components. Anywhere that water appears frequently should be protected against electrical faults.
What to Do to Fix a Ground Fault
First order of business: stop using the affected outlet or any other in the room until you know it’s safe. If you hit the reset button on a GFCI and it trips again, assume there’s really a problem.
The next steps may include:
- Inspect wiring to troubleshoot the ground fault
- Replace regular wall outlets with GFCI outlets
- Add a GFCI circuit breaker to protect every switch on the circuit
- Remove damaged wires or terminals and replace
- Throw away old, worn-out appliances or any device with damaged wiring
Call an Electrician for GFCI Installation & Electrical Safety
If your GFCI trips constantly or you’ve felt small shocks when touching appliances or outlets, it’s time for electrical repairs. A licensed pro can quickly conduct a safety review to make sure the area is safe.
In the Sonoma and Marin County area, contact us to make an appointment for GFCI installation or any electrical problem troubleshooting.