Shedding light on GFI Outlets to help keep you out of the dark.

As you know, running into unforeseen electrical problems can be very intimidating -- specially when you're left in the dark.

If you are like most people, when one of these problems occur you search around looking for a probable cause, even when you may not really know what to look for. Sound familiar?

Then, when you get to the point you know you can't resolve the problem, you hesitate to call a professional because you know it's going to cost a bunch of money (electricians generally charge as much as $85 just to show up). Then, if it turns out to be a simple fix, not only does your ego take a hit, but so does your wallet.

Such is the case when a GFI outlet shuts down the power in part of your house. So it's nice to know which GFI is the culprit and where it's located.

ground fault interrupterA Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) is that electrical outlet with two buttons on it. One says "Test" and the other says "Reset".

GFI's are used wherever there is the potential for contact between people and an electrical appliance that is near moisture or water. Which is why GFI's are mostly installed near sinks, tubs, saunas, hot tubs, pools and for outdoor outlets.

GFI outlets protect you from shock by shutting off the electricity the instant the GFI senses most kinds of shorts or changes in current. When this happens, the breaker inside the GFI is triggered and pops the "Reset" button out.

Some homes have a GFI installed in the garage - which has been known to cause a bit of a problem.

You see, back in the day, electricians were famous for running power from the breaker panel to a GFI in the garage and then from the GFI to various parts of the house. This was a cost saving short cut (less GFI's to install).

This would protect various parts of the house but, when the power went out somewhere in the house, the home owner wouldn't know it was caused by the GFI in the garage. Many frustrated homeowners ended up calling an electrician to figure this out... and boy was that expensive.

So here's a tip to save you from what could be a very frustrating, and possibly costly, situation.

Take a few minutes to locate every GFI in your house and garage. When you find one, press the test button. It will shut off the electricity to that outlet and whatever circuit it controls. You can then find out what circuit that GFI controls and make a note of it for the future.

You should also know that if the GFI is tripped (shut off) it can also trip the breaker in your breaker panel that supplies power to that outlet. So if you reset the GFI and the power does not come back on, check your main breaker panel for a tripped breaker switch.

Knowing the basics of your home's electrical system will keep you safe as well as save you time and money.

If you have questions about your DIY projects, just ask your personal DIY consultant. I'm here to help you succeed with speed.

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