Testing AFCI and GFCI Breakers and Outlets – Homeowner 101
Testing AFCI and GFCI Outlets and Breakers
GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) and AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) breakers and outlets are two types of electrical safety devices that are designed to protect homeowners from electrical shock and fire. However, these devices can become faulty over time, so it's important to test them on a regular basis to ensure they are still providing the necessary protection.
Why Test GFCI and AFCI Breakers and Outlets?
1. Safety: The main reason to test GFCI and AFCI breakers and outlets is to ensure the safety of the homeowners. Faulty GFCI and AFCI devices can fail to protect against electrical fires and shock, which can lead to serious injury or even death.
2. Compliance: In some areas, it is mandatory for homeowners to have functional GFCI and AFCI devices in place. By testing these devices regularly, homeowners can ensure that they are in compliance with local safety regulations.
3. Cost Savings: Testing GFCI and AFCI devices can save homeowners money in the long run. Faulty devices can cause damage to expensive electrical devices such as televisions and computers, which can be costly to replace. By testing these devices regularly, homeowners can catch faults early and take corrective action before any damage occurs.
When to Test GFCI and AFCI Breakers and Outlets?
GFCI and AFCI devices should be tested on a regular basis, depending on how frequently they are used. It's recommended to test AFCI and GFCI devices at least once a month. Additionally, these devices should be tested after any electrical work has been done on the property, as wiring changes can impact the function of GFCI and AFCI devices.
How to Test GFCI and AFCI Breakers and Outlets?
Testing GFCI and AFCI devices is a straightforward process that can be done by homeowners themselves. For GFCI outlets, simply press the 'test' button located on the outlet. If the device is functioning correctly, the power will turn off. To turn the power back on, simply press the 'reset' button. For AFCI breakers, simply press the 'test' button located on the breaker. If the device is functioning correctly, the breaker should trip.
Common Issues with GFCI and AFCI Devices.
Issue #1: GFCI outlet keeps tripping
If you have a GFCI outlet that keeps tripping, it could be due to a ground fault. This means that there is an electrical current leakage to the ground, and the GFCI outlet is sensing this and shutting off the power to the outlet to prevent electrical shock.
To troubleshoot the issue:
- Unplug all the devices from the GFCI outlet and reset it.
- If the outlet stays on, the issue might be caused by one of the devices that you have unplugged.
- Try plugging them in one-by-one to find out which device is causing the problem.
- If you are unable to identify which device is causing the issue, you may need to call an electrician.
- If the outlet will not reset after all devices have been unplugged, it may be faulty and in need of being replaced.
Issue #2: AFCI or GFCI Circuit breaker keeps tripping
If you have a circuit breaker that keeps tripping, it could be an indication of an overloaded circuit, short circuit, or ground fault.
Troubleshoot the issue:
- Check the circuit for any overloaded outlets or devices and unplug them.
- Check for any damaged or frayed wires in the circuit.
- Check for any water damage, which could be short-circuiting the circuit.
- Check whether the circuit breaker itself is faulty and needs replacing. If the breaker will not reset with everything unplugged, it may be faulty, or indicate damaged wiring to the circuit. We recommend you call an electrician to investigate and resolve
Testing GFCI and AFCI breakers and outlets on a regular basis is critical to ensuring the safety of homeowners, compliance with local regulations, and cost savings. By testing these devices often, homeowners can rest easy knowing that they are protected against electrical fires and shock. If you find a faulty device when testing, call in an electrician to make repairs.