It’s National Electrical Safety Month! Have You Tested Your GFCIs Recently?


May is National Electrical Safety Month, a time to remind the public about electrical safety tips and tactics for the prevention of electrical hazards. Today is the day KB Electric LLC urges the community to test their GFCI outlets around their home. Note: GFCI outlets should be tested on a monthly basis, especially if they are not of the self-test type.

Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are outlets that protect your home against ground faults. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), 50% of electrocutions in the home are prevented with the use of GFCIs.

In short, a GFCI detects when an electric current is running through the wrong path (like water or through a person). The GFCI outlet will shut off, preventing you from plugging something in and creating an electrical shock. You can learn more about GFCIs from one of our other blogs by clicking here

Since it is National Electrical Safety Month, it’s a great time to check those GFCIs around your house to make sure they are still working properly. After all, if the outlet’s ground fault circuit interrupter isn’t functioning correctly, it fails to do what it is supposed to do (preventing you from getting shocked), and then you will get…..well you get the picture.

We also blogged in the past about self-test GFCI outlets. Click here to learn more. Starting in late June of 2015, the UL made it mandatory for manufacturers of GFCIs to make them self-testing. This helps the forgetful ones from having to manually test their GFCI outlets every month themselves; HOWEVER, stuff happens. And stuff isn’t 100% made to perfection. It is still possible that a self-test GFCI needs to be manually tested (recommended by most GFCI manufacturers). 

national electrical safety month - self test gfci

Self-Test GFCI (notice the green light in the bottom right-hand corner)

You may not have self-test GFCI outlets in your home if you haven’t updated them recently. Regardless if you do, like mentioned before, it’s always a good idea to test them manually periodically. And if you don’t have the self-test type, it is EXTREMELY important you test them every month. After all, things aren’t made to last forever….

Now that we have ranted and raved about the importance of testing GFCIs (both self-testing and not self-testing), it’s time to show you the best way to test them.

Where Are My GFCI Outlets?

This is a very good question, one we will be happy to answer in National Electrical Safety Month! (or any other month, since safety and prevention are an electrician’s top priorities). 

If you aren’t sure if an outlet is a GFCI outlet, look for the two push buttons in the middle. The buttons will read TEST and RESET (sometimes one is a red button, but not always).

When walking throughout your home to find your GFCIs, you will find them in areas prone to water. These areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Bathrooms
  • Outdoors (decks, patios, porches, etc.)
  • Garages
  • Above or below your kitchen countertops
  • Laundry rooms

We say not limited to those areas above because some people like to install them in other areas of the home, especially where water can get in easily. 

How To Test Your GFCI Outlet

  1. Push in the RESET button.
  2. Plug in a lamp or nightlight, and turn it ON.
  3. At this point, the lamp or nightlight should be powered ON.

If the lamp or nightlight isn’t powered ON in step #3, press the RESET button again. If the lamp or nightlight still doesn’t turn ON, it’s time to call an electrician to find out the issue.

  1. If in step #3 the lamp is indeed turned ON, press the TEST button on the GFCI.
  2. The lamp or nightlight should now turn OFF if the TEST button has been pressed.

If the lamp or nightlight is not OFF after pressing the TEST button, the GFCI outlet may need to be replaced. Contact an electrician for further assistance.

  1. If in step #5 the lamp turned OFF when the TEST button was pushed in, push the RESET button once more, and the lamp or nightlight should turn back ON.

If in step #6 the lamp or nightlight did not turn back ON after pushing the RESET button for the last time, contact an electrician for further assistance.