How to Install a GFCI Outlet

In a previous post we covered how to install an electrical outlet. Today we’re going to show you how to install a GFCI outlet.

GFCI stands for “Ground Fault Interrupt Outlet.” This is an outlet that is capable of shutting itself down when it senses the threat of an electric shock.

You’ll usually find GFCI outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and laundry rooms. That’s because of the added risk of electrical shock that’s caused by exposure to moisture in these places.

One thing that’s nice about GFCI outlets is that you can install them at the beginning of the circuit to give every other outlet on that same circuit the same level of protection. This is why you’ll typically only see one GFCI outlet in a kitchen even though there might be two close to the sink.

You may need to take on this task for several reasons. Perhaps your existing GFCI outlet is faulty, or perhaps the previous homeowner never installed one. Whatever the reason this is a task that you can easily do yourself if you wish.

In many ways the process will be very familiar. You’ll start by shutting off the power to the circuit at the circuit breaker and using your electrical testing device to make absolutely certain that the power is no longer flowing to the outlet.

Next, you’ll remove the existing outlet.

If the outlet has been serving as a normal electrical outlet you’ll notice that all of the wires will be curved slightly, like fishhooks. The GFCI outlet installs slightly differently than the normal electrical outlet does, however, so you’re going to want to straighten those carefully out.

There are slots in the back of the GFCI outlet. You’ll want to carefully read the labels. There’s a place for the white wire, a place for the black wire, and a place for the bare wire (down by the green screw).

Once you insert the wires you’ll tighten the screws on the side to hold them firmly in place. Then you’re going to push the wires back into the box and secure the GFCI outlet to the walls using the screws at the top and the bottom.

Restore power to the outlet and look for the green light. You can also hit the test button and the reset button to make sure the outlet is working properly.

If you’re a more visual person you can watch a video from Buildipedia below outlining the process on how to install a GFCI outlet:

If you feel uneasy at any point during this process then it is time to call an electrician. If you live in Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cary, or anywhere else in the Triangle we’re available 24/7. We’re happy to help with just about any kind of electrical project, large or small. Call us today!

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