Many vintage homes in Western New York have outdated electrical systems with fuse boxes and two-pronged, non-grounded outlets. For any home with this type of electrical technology, we strongly recommend calling for our electrical services in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas. Our electricians can make vital upgrades to grounded outlets and a new electrical panel that uses reliable and convenient breakers while also matching the higher electrical demands of a modern household.
If you already have a breaker panel and grounded outlets, there may be another important electrical retrofit for you to schedule: replacing a number of key outlets with GFCI outlets. This dramatically improves electrical safety in homes—and it’s a basic job our professional electricians can have done in a short time.
What’s a GFCI Outlet?
You may have never heard of GFCI outlets before, but you’ve almost certainly seen them in hotels or other commercial buildings. These are the outlets that have a set of rectangular buttons between the sockets. If you look closer, you’ll see the buttons are marked “test” and “reset.” This might sound like it controls a circuit breaker of some kind. That’s pretty much exactly what it does—a GFCI outlet is designed to cut off power to its sockets in case of emergency conditions to prevent people in a house from suffering a high voltage shock. The electrical panel in a home protects the electrical system, while the GFCI outlets protect people.
How a GFCI Outlet Operates
The standard outlet socket has three slots: the ground slot, the hot slot, and the neutral slot. When an item is plugged into the outlet, electrical voltage runs in a complete circuit from the hot slot, through the appliance, and then back to the neutral slot. What a GFCI outlet adds is a monitor for the hot and neutral sides to detect when there is a difference between the two of them. Under normal circumstances, the two sides should be equal because the voltage is moving in a circuit.
However, if the neutral side has less voltage, it means electrical voltage has found a way to reach the ground rather than complete the circuit. And that means the voltage is flowing through something it shouldn’t—usually a person.
When the GFCI outlet detects any difference between the hot and neutral sides, it immediately trips a breaker to cut off voltage. This happens in milliseconds and prevents a person from suffering a dangerous shock, such as from dropping an electrical appliance into a sink they’re using. The “reset” button can be used to restore the outlet after the danger has passed.
GFCI Outlet Recommendations
Any modern home should have GFCI outlets installed in the kitchen, the bathrooms, and any room where people regularly sleep. This significantly increases the safety of a home. Call for our professionals to handle making these upgrades, or any other upgrades you may need.
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