GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets, or as commonly referred to as GFI outlets, are needed any time you have an electrical outlet within three feet of where water is accessible. This applies to all instances, whether it’s on your kitchen counter three feet from the sink, or in your utility room three feet from the washing machine or slop sink.
This is especially important when it comes to passing inspection, as any inspector will have an eye open for this, especially when it comes to flips or rehab projects.
In not so many words, a GFI outlet is going to prevent you from getting shocked or electrocuted. And since water is a conductor for electricity – well, you can probably guess why they are required within three feet of a water source. You may even see them throughout an entire kitchen, as many appliances used such as blenders or food processors can cause a surge in electricity.
These works by way of cutting off electricity any time there is a surge of electricity or change of current in that particular outlet. Instead of allowing for this to occur, the outlet will simply cut out and “pop” in an effort to cut off the electrical supply.
Many times these outlets can be a bit of a headache. As often the case, running too much electric through the house at one time has historically been known to pop a GFI outlet. One example of this might be running a dehumidifier in your basement while blow drying your hair in the bathroom upstairs. That same surge that dims the lights for just a second is the same surge going through the home. If the GFI outlet deems it too strong, it will cut off all power in an attempt to protect you from that surge.
To reset that circuit, you often times only need to punch that reset button on the outlet. Otherwise you may need a trip to the electrical box to flip the switch back on.