GFCI Electrical Outlets in the Bathroom
If you have home wiring projects to be done where there is water present, you need to install a GFCI electrical outlet. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. It is an outlet that has a built-in circuit breaker designed to protect you from electrical shock and to prevent your home’s circuit breaker panel from shorting out. Instead of solely relying on the fuse to trip — which protects a house from electrical fire — a GFCI outlet provides a localized circuit breaker where the danger of electric shock is highest.
The utmost precautions should be taken when working with electrical and electronics where water flows. In the kitchen and the bathroom, building codes require that a GFCI outlet be installed as the first in a chain. This does not mean that every outlet must have a GFCI, only the first. That way, if there is an imbalance in current flowing from the hot wire to the neutral, the GFCI outlet will detect it and shut off the circuit.
Take safety precautions before you install a GFCI electrical outlet. Most importantly, turn off the circuit you are working on. This isn’t a recommendation; it’s a requirement. Secondly, use tools with insulated handles to avoid being a conduit for electrical current. With the right preparation and know-how, installing a GFCI outlet can be done yourself.
Installing the Outlet
Installing the outlet is a fairly straightforward process.
Step 1 - Turn Off Power
Before you start to install the GFCI outlet, you will need to find it on your circuit breaker and turn off the power. If the room does not have natural light, you may need to grab a flashlight
Step 2 - Remove the Plate
Unscrew the outlet from the junction box and remove the plate currently on the outlet. You should mark which wires go to which terminals before removing the old outlet from the wires.
Step 3 - Add New Outlet
Attach the wires you marked to the new GFCI outlet.
Step 4 - Test It
Once the wires are all connected, screw it into place and attach the faceplate. Then turn the power back on and use a circuit tester to see if there is power in the outlet.