What is a GFCI?
GFCI of GFI is short for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. It is a special electrical outlet or circuit breaker designed to protect you from electrical shock. It works by monitoring the flow of electrical current to an appliance. It if senses electricity attempting to go to ground, it will trip the internal breaker. This is supposed to happen in less than a second. It works differently than the circuit breaker in the panel. The GFCI works with the breaker in your panel to provide an extra level of protection against electrical shock.
Where to use GFCI outlets
GFCI are required by local codes in areas where water is present. This includes kitchens, bathrooms, utility areas, unfinished basements, porches and pool areas. Any outlet that can be used where the cord or appliance can come in contact with water should be a GFCI outlet.
Testing your GFCI outlets
You should test each outlet monthly according to the manufacturers. This can be done by pushing the “test” button on the front of the outlet. The reset button should pop out. Some outlets have an LED indicator that will tell you the status. With the reset button popped out, test the outlet with a light or small appliance. The power should be off. Firmly press the “reset” button until it clicks. The power should now be restored.
The information above is a condensed version of the full instructions provided by the manufacturers of these devices. Please read all of the manufacturers instructions for your brand of GFCI outlet and consult your local codes for compliance with the electrical requirements for your area.