Test GFCIs monthly

Now that many springtime showers have passed, it’s a good time to check your home’s electrical system. The ground fault circuit interrupters that prevent electrocution could be damaged by power surges during storms.

A GFCI, which can be part of an electrical receptacle or circuit breaker, trips the circuit when it detects ground faults or leaky currents. It protects the user of electrical equipment from electrocution by shutting off the electric path to that appliance.

Nearly 50% of the 400 electrocutions that occur each year could be prevented by using GFCIs, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Even when homes do have GFCIs, the foundation says, most homeowners don’t know how often to test them. You should test yours every month, and again after power surges, to check for damage.

Here’s how to test your GFCIs:

  • Push the “reset” button on the GFCI receptacle to prepare the unit for testing.
  • Plug a lamp into the GFCI and turn it on. The lamp’s bulb should light up.
  • Push the GFCI’s “test” button. The lamp should turn itself off.
  • Push the “reset” button again. The lamp should turn on again.

If the lamp doesn’t turn itself off when you push the “test” button, that means your GFCI is on the fritz. To fix it, call a licensed electrician.