The terms GFCI, AFCI and Tamper Resistant may seem overwhelming, but don’t fret, these designations refer to safety features in your home’s electrical system. While you don’t need to be an expert on these devices, learning a bit about what keeps you and your family safe within your house can be beneficial. Some of the common safety features that have been added to our homes include:
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
- Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters
- Tamper Resistant Receptacles
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
Purpose: These keep you from being electrocuted. More specifically, they look for electrical leaks. If they notice a leak, they assume that it might be going though you and they shut off the electricity.
Where needed: Anywhere close to water. They are typically near kitchen sinks, in bathrooms, outdoors, garages, etc.
Identifying them: GFCIs are special breakers in your electrical panel (look for a Test button) or special receptacles (outlets) with Test and Reset buttons. Sometimes you can find the letters “GFI” or “GFCI”.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters
Purpose: These help prevent fires by looking for overheating from poor connections.
Where needed: AFCIs are special breakers on your electrical panel that protect receptacles in bedrooms.
Identifying them: They are special breakers on your electrical panel (look for a Test button). Sometimes you can find the letters “AFCI”.
Tamper Resistant Receptacles/Outlets
Purpose: These keep you from being electrocuted. In particular, they won’t let children (or adults) put a key, safety pin, screwdriver, etc. into receptacles.
Where needed: Anywhere a child can reach a receptacle.
Identifying them: Look for the letters “TR” on cover plate or plates blocking slots.
Good to know: While normal receptacles are rated for 15 amps of current flow, the T-slot in this picture indicates the receptacle is rated for a larger 20-amp load. Some appliances require a 20-amp circuit and have T-shaped prongs so they can’t be used on a 15-amp receptacle. These receptacles are commonly used above kitchen counters, to handle kettles and toasters for example, without tripping the breaker even when they are on at the same time.
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