Let me lay out some GFCI facts for everyone to enjoy. GFCIs are pretty cool and extremely important in homes, to both prevent electrical shock and minimize the chance and severity of electrical fires. You can click here to learn about Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

Fact 1 – GFCI monitors the amperage between the neutral and hot conductors. This means that if 15 amps goes out then 15 amps must return. If the difference is greater than .006 amperes then the GFCI will trip.

Fact 2 – The current is returned to the neutral bus bar by a neutral pigtail after the circuit has been monitored. If you’ve ever seen inside your panel box you may have noticed a white twisted wire on one of the breakers.   This is probably to a GFCI breaker (or arc fault). It’s carrying the load back to the neutral bus bar. It’s pretty obvious. When you see it inside your panel you’ll know a GFCI breaker when you see it!

Fact 3 – Never put your refrigerator on a GFCI receptacle. The problem with this is when the GFCI trips, your fridge is left without power. If this happens and it’s not reset, you can lose everything in your fridge and freezer. Come to think of it, add wine-a-dors to this no GFCI list. You don’t want to ruin a lot of expensive wine or cigars because the fridge lost power.

Fact 4 – GFCI will work on a two wire system. Just because a circuit is lacking an equipment ground doesn’t mean that a GFCI won’t work. The only thing that won’t work in this situation is an electrical tester that steals amperage from the circuit. See Fact 5.

Fact 5 – An electrical tester cannot test a GFCI by pushing the button on the device. The only way to test a circuit without an equipment ground is to press the button the receptacle or hit the test button on the breaker. I’ve included a photo of an electrical tester here:


GFCI Electrical Tester

Fact 6 – Knowing a lot about GFCIs will make your girlfriend or wife like you more and think you’re the greatest handyman on earth. People always think Italians sound so Grrrrr, but the truth is if you start speaking electrical jiberish, nobody will know what you’re saying either – Just like people speaking Italian.

Fact 7 – GFCIs do not protect against surges. GFCI protect against imbalances and inconsistencies in current. They do not protect against surges in voltage. This is the job of Surge protectors.

Fact 8Howdy Home Inspections is awesome!!!

Fact 9– Lacking GFCI and having reverse polarity in your receptacles are both electrical shock hazards. You can read here about Reversed Polarity

Fact 10 – Re-read facts 1-9.  They might help save your life!


Be Happy and Be Kind!!!


T.J. Thorne