Although some of us may not enjoy moving from summertime to cooler weather, there is plenty to look forward to with the holiday season just around the corner. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all bring something different to the table, but there are plenty of common activities that homeowners get up to around now. Whether it is installing holiday decorations or cooking for the family, most of us are going to be putting some stress on our electrical systems. With higher usage around the corner during this time of the year, let’s take a quick look at Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI), and how they can help you stay safe during the fall and winter.

WHAT ARE THEY?

A GFCI is an electrical relay or switch that is used to prevent a ground fault, and the term is most commonly associated with household outlets. If you have gone from an older home to a newer property, you may have noticed that some outlets look different. Newer outlets often have small buttons labeled ‘test’ and ‘reset’ with a status light located in the middle—these are GFCI outlets. Although we often overlook them, these types of upgraded outlets can greatly improve safety, especially around the holidays. If your home is currently equipped with older outlets, Piper Electric is happy to schedule a quick and easy appointment to replace them with GFCIs.

WHY THE HOLIDAYS?

You may be thinking, what makes having these outlets important? Why do the holidays make a difference? This is the time of year when you are probably going to use your electrical system differently. You may plug in a leaf blower to an exterior outlet. You may put out Christmas lights, or inflatable Halloween Decorations. You may run four or five appliances at once during the big Thanksgiving meal, instead of the normal two. You may have houseguests. All of these activities increase the likelihood that a ground fault or wiring issue could occur. GFCI outlets are your best safety option in these situations. 

SAFETY

Simply put, a ground fault occurs when electricity finds its way from a source, like an outlet, into the ground instead of whatever it is that you want to power. Older outlets are not able to prevent this. In many cases, people are the route that electricity can take to the ground, which is something we definitely want to avoid. A GFCI outlet is built with an off switch, so that the circuit will trip if it detects current flowing at a different rate. If an appliance becomes wet, or there is a wiring malfunction, the outlet will sense the change and switch off before anyone gets shocked. GFCI’s are an easy and effective way to improve safety around the holidays for everyone.