Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles and circuit breakers

Monday, December 16, 2019

The National Electrical Code (NEC) began in 1971 by requiring GFCI-protection for only outdoor and pool area receptacles, then added new locations gradually over the years until all wet areas of a home are now required to be GFCI-protected. This has dramatically reduced the number of electrocutions in the home. Here’s answers to the questions we get about GFCI circuit protection.

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

 • What is the difference between what trips a GFCI (ground fault) receptacle and a circuit breaker?

 Are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) really necessary and worth the trouble? 

 What is the code requirement for GFCI protection for receptacles near a wet bar sink?

 When was GFCI-protection for kitchen dishwasher receptacle outlet first required? 

 Does a washing machine receptacle outlet require GFCI protection?

 My spa tub stopped working. What's wrong?  

 What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) NOT protect against?  

 What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

 Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?

 What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

 What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

 Why is there a GFCI breaker in the electric panel for the bathroom shower light and exhaust fan?

 What is the switch on the wall with two pushbuttons? 

 How is it possible to provide both GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and CAFCI (Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection for kitchen and laundry circuits?

 My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead and there are no tripped breakers in the electric panel. What's wrong?   

 My GFCI reset button is hard to push and won't reset. What's wrong?

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in the garage?

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in bathrooms?

 When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in the kitchen? 

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required near bathtubs and showers?

• When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in balconies, decks, and porches? 

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in a laundry room?

When were exterior (outdoor) receptacle outlets first required to be GFCI?

• When  were receptacle outlets near a pool first required to be GFCI? 

Does a septic pump or sump pump require a GFCI-receptacle?

When were receptacle outlets in the crawlspace under a home first required to be GFCI?

When was a kitchen refrigerator receptacle outlet first required to be GFCI-protected?

 A receptacle outlet is dead and I think I tripped a GFCI, but can't locate it. Where do I find the GFCI reset?

• Why type of circuit breaker has a red test button? 

When are the "GFCI PROTECTED" and "NO EQUIPMENT GROUND" stickers required on receptacle outlets?

• Are dining room, breakfast room, and pantry receptacles required to be GFCI protected? 

• Is a ceiling receptacle outlet for a garage door opener required to be GFCI protected? 

What is a "dead front GFCI" or "blank face GFCI”?

Does a garage door opener require GFCI protection by code? 

• What is the average life expectancy of a GFCI circuit breaker?

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