GFCI Protection Needed Outdoors

GFCI protection is required in certain places, and especially outdoors.   You have a dangerous situation if you don’t have all your outside electrical connections protected.  We regularly hear from homeowners who don’t have this device and want it added to improve the safety of their homes.

The purpose of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interruption) technology is to eliminate the possibility of getting a shock.

  • For the technically-minded, the National Electrical Code defines it this way: “a device intended for the protection of personnel that functions to de-energize a circuit or portion thereof within an established period of time when a current to ground exceeds some predetermined value that is less than that required to operate the overcurrent protective device of the supply circuit.”
  • For the non-technical thinkers, it means the circuit will stop working when it senses a ground fault (short circuit) that could hurt someone.  The device was designed to shut down so fast that the person involved will not feel any shock.

Where do I need GFCI Protection Outdoors?

GFCI protection is a requirement on all outdoor circuits.   The following are examples of the need: all exterior lighting, all deck and porch outlets, and all around the swimming pool or hot tub.   Protection is also required for all outlets in the garage lower than 4 feet in height.

This protection is obviously needed because of the likelihood of water coming in contact with the electricity in the wiring.   Just imagine the danger of a dripping wet child getting out of your swimming pool and going to an unprotected outlet to plug something in or to turn on a light.  It could be a tragedy.

This type of protection can be at the individual outlet, or it can be at the breaker box.   Both are effective so it just depends on which you want.

Both types also have a test button on them.  Devices can corrode over time and fail to work properly, so homeowners should test the device occasionally.  You will not know unless you test it.

Is it Expensive?

Replacing non-protected circuits with GFCI protection does require a service call and some time by an electrician.  We do charge a reasonable cost to install it.  Think about the cost of someone you love getting hurt because you didn’t have the protection.  Wouldn’t that be a higher cost?

It isn’t worth the risk.  If you aren’t sure that all your outdoor circuits have GFCI protection on them, ask us to take a look.   It is an easy fix and can save someone from a painful shock or maybe even a life-threatening injury.

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