What is GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)/ GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter)?

A simple way to define what a GFCI/GFI is that they protect people from electrical shock. If we break the parts of the GFCI even further. First being Ground Fault (G) and this is when electricity drifts from it’s directed path. Imagine a river as electricity and it is flowing down it’s intended path. Take this same river and divert a portion of it in a different direction. This direction maybe pointed towards a town in which case could be damaging. The river is no longer being contained and the diverted portion of this river is leaking towards area that it shouldn’t be. When we have electricity not following it’s intended path like the diverted river above a Ground Fault takes place.


GFCI Receptacle                                             GFCI Breaker










Circuit Interrupter is the next piece of this puzzle. Think of a circuit as a circle or a loop and this loop is where the energy flows. When there is an imbalance in this flow the Circuit Interrupter detects the imbalance and stops of the flow of energy.  Saving an individual from an electrical shock which could be lethal.

There is an estimated 300 deaths a year by electrocution. GFCI’s have been adopted in modern construction practices. GFCI’s should be upgrade in older homes as this could alleviate the potential for injury or death from electric shock.

GFCI’s are important as they protect the people living in the home from getting unintentionally shocked. The biggest risk for unnecessary shock is inside and outside the dwelling where the receptacles and fixtures could come into contact with water. GFCI’s should be installed on the home’s exterior receptacles, the kitchen receptacles, bathroom receptacles, and inside the garage.








In summary GFCI’s or GFI’s are an important piece of owning a home. These devices will help keep your family and friends safe from an unnecessary shock and may even help save a life. It is important to test breakers and GFCI’s every few years. This is a simple test that only takes a few seconds to perform.  Every homeowner should have a GFCI outlet tester. These are an inexpensive tool that will simulate a ground fault and trips the GFCI and can quickly tell a person if there is an issue. Now it’s important that if you trip the GFCI you must reset it.