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Chances are you’ve never lived in a home that didn’t have relatively affordable electricity flowing from conveniently located indoor outlets. These days, it’s all too easy to take residential electricity for granted, hardly giving it a second thought until it malfunctions in some way.

Delta Electrical Incorporated has been providing residential electrical services to the Jackson area for over 10 years now, and we’re always surprised by how little some people seem to know about the electrical systems in their own homes!

For instance, do you have any idea what those “reset” and “test” buttons are for on the electrical outlets in your home? We’ll give you a second to think about it…nothing, huh?

Not to worry! Many of our residential customers are equally in the dark when it comes to these mysterious buttons. So we decided to shed some light on the matter with this brief blog about those weird looking outlets and how those buttons are actually supposed to be used.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Outlets

First things first, let’s talk about the outlet. Now included in most modern homes (and sometimes added retroactively by a residential electrician in older homes) these button-bearing outlets are called ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCI outlets for short.

These outlets are typically installed in rooms where there’s a chance that they (or the appliances plugged into them) may come into contact with liquid: the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and possibly even a garage.

Using The Buttons On Your GFCI Outlet

The function of GFCI outlets is meant to protect humans from electrical shock should exposure to water occur. In the event of a splash of water reaching the outlet, the “GFCI checks that the flow of power out of a device matches the flow going in. If the power isn’t coming back, then it’s going somewhere bad—in which case the GFCI cuts off the power,” explains Slate.com.

This makes it pretty obvious that the GFCI function is pretty important to the health and safety of your family, so it’s important to always be sure that it’s working properly…and that’s where those mysterious little buttons come in!

The TEST button, as you might have guessed by now, is a way for you to test that the GFCI function of a particular outlet is working the way it should be. At least once a month, possibly at the same time that you test your smoke detectors, go ahead and press the TEST button on each GFCI outlet in your home. If the outlet is working properly, the RESET button should immediately pop out. It should be really fast, almost as if the two buttons are connected somehow! If it does, the GFCI function is working perfectly, and you can press the RESET button back down until next month.

If the RESET button doesn’t immediately pop out of its spot like a prairie dog, something might be wrong with the outlet, and you should call Delta Electrical to have a residential electrician examine the outlet immediately.