GFCI is an acronym for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The GFCIs primary function is to detect a fault in the ground or circuit and trip the outlet. This is basically a smart outlet that thinks on its own in efforts to ensure safety by cutting off electricity to anything plugged into the device. In this situation one would press the reset button; one of two buttons displayed on the front of the GFCI much like tripping a circuit breaker in the panel box.
There are three reasons a GFCI may trip, it could be an error, an overload, and or an interruption in the circuit. An overload can be caused by over using the GFCI, for example; consistently operating multiple blow dryers in succession. If there is an interruption in the circuit, than there is a problem with the ground, neutral or positive wires. This interruption can be caused by rodents chewing on a wire, or a repairman drilling into an unexposed wire in the wall.
So where should you have a GFCI installed?
Well, in Westchester County, NY, as well as throughout the United Sates GFCIs must be located in all bath rooms, kitchens counter tops, outdoors and garages. A GFCI must be located within five feet of any sink, whether in a commercial or residential setting.
The installation of GFCIs is crucial to maintaining the safety of people and is mandatory in passing electrical inspections regardless the city, village or state. This should be installed by a quality Licensed Electrician, because there are secondary factors to be addressed when installing a GFCI.
We only recommend manufactures whose products are UL approved such as Hubbell and Leviton. In the event that your GFCI will not reset after the device trips it then needs to be replaced.
Michael M Muqattash MBA February 15, 2012.