This post was originally written by Joseph Truini of Today’s Homeowner
Ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets prevent accidental electrocution, and code requires them in baths, kitchens, laundry rooms, garages and outdoor locations.
A GFCI has a built-in circuit breaker that interrupts the flow of electricity the instant it senses a ground fault or current leak. But a GFCI won’t work unless it’s properly connected. If your electrical system has not been upgraded for 20 years or more, you probably need to install GFCIs.
Steps for a GFCI Outlet Wiring Upgrade
- First, turn off the power to the circuit you’ll be working on.
- Take off the cover plate and unscrew the outlet from the box. Disconnect the wires and remove the old outlet.
- At the back of the GFCI are screw terminals marked “load” and “line.” The single screw at the bottom is the grounding screw.
- Attach both the black and white wires to the screw terminals on the line side.
- Fasten the black wire to the dark-colored screw and the white wire to the light-colored screw. Again, make sure that both wires are on the “line” side.
- Wrap the bare copper wire around the grounding screw and tighten it.
- Neatly tuck the wires into the box, screw the outlet in place and replace the cover plate.
- Finally, check the GFCI by pressing the “test” (power off) and “reset” (power on) buttons.
- After turning off the electricity to the kitchen at the main service panel, remove the cover plate and unscrew the duplex outlet from the existing cable inside the box.
- Install the new ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet by attaching both the black and white wires to the “line” side of the outlet.
- Connect the bare wire to the grounding screw. Replace the cover plate, then check to make sure the GFCI is operating properly.
- Press the test button; the outlet should go dead.
- Reset to resume current flow.
Electrical Code Reminders
- All countertop receptacle outlets must be protected by a GFCI device installed at the outlet or by GFCI circuit breakers.
- A kitchen must have two 20-amp circuits for countertop appliances.
- There should be countertop receptacles installed so that no point along the counter is more than 2 ft. from an outlet.
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