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The Correct Way to Test a GFCI Outlet

test gfci outletOne of the most important safety devices in the home, the Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter monitors the power flowing to a plugged-in device. If, for example, a hand dryer is accidentally dropped into a tub full of water, the GFCI detects the interruption in current and cuts the power instantly – preventing electrocution.

To ensure that your GFCI outlets are working correctly its important to test them about once a month. Here are the steps to follow.

1. First, locate and press the TEST button with your finger. It should make a snap sound as the outlet connection trips, cutting the power off.

2. Confirm that the the power is cut off by plugging a lamp into each plug. The lamp should not turn on.

3. Once you have confirmed the GFCI has tripped succesfully, press the RESET button to restore power to the outlet.

If the test button fails to trip the circuit, or the outlet is still energized after pressing the test button, the outlet should be replaced.

GFCI test deviceUsing a GFCI Tester

Alternatively, a GFCI outlet test device can be used to test whether a GFCI outlet is working safely. Used by electricians, the tester can also tell you whether the outlet is wired correctly and identify wiring problems, including open ground, reversed polarity, an open hot or neutral, and a reversed hot and ground. To use a GFCI tester, plug it into the outlet and use the test button to trip the GFCI and ensure it's working correctly. This does the same thing as pushing the test button on the outlet.
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