Testing Your Electrical Outlets

In the old days, when a hair dryer or radio fell into a sink or tub, the outcome was fatal. Thanks to one of the great technological advances in home safety, we now have the GFCI outlet. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. GFCI outlets monitor the amount of current flowing from the hot to the neutral. If there is any imbalance, even as small as four or five milliamps, the outlet trips, which turns off the circuit. These devices are inexpensive and can be prone to failure, so it is important to test them periodically. To test the outlet, simply push the test button. If the circuit trips the outlet is working, in which case you should push the reset button to reenergize the circuit. If nothing happens when the test button is pushed, the outlet is malfunctioning and should be replaced as soon as possible.