Pros and Cons of GFI Outlets

Electricity is something just about all households take for granted, but itโ€™s a powerful force that can be extremely dangerous. Ground fault circuit interrupter outlets, or GFCIs (otherwise known as GFIs), have been in use since the 1970s. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) has revealed an 83% decrease in electrocutions since then, and the National Electric Code now requires GFI outlets in all homes.

These special outlets are required for all single-phase outlets at 125 volts. They can be installed in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, laundry rooms, crawl spaces, and outdoor areas. The pros and cons of GFI outlets are as follows:


Installing a GFI outlet can prevent:

  • Shocks: Designed to monitor the flow of electricity, a GFI outlet has a sensor that detects any current that flows through an incorrect path, such as when a plugged-in electrical device comes in contact with water. The outlet, able to detect minute changes in electrical current, will then instantly cut power to that line.
  • Fires: Leaking electrical currents are one of the most common causes of electrical fires. They can occur due to old wiring or deteriorated insulation. The ESFI estimates there are 51,000 electrical fires every year and GFI outlets can lower the risk by 80%. Avoiding a fire means not experiencing devastating damage and losses.
  • Appliance damage: Spikes in electricity over time can damage appliances and shorten their life. A GFI outlet can avoid this by delivering a steady amount of power to appliances and back to the outlet. If there is a small electricity leak, the outlet will trip itself, cutting the power and avoiding damage to the device.


GFCI outlets do a lot to protect your home and family. However, installing them can present challenges. You could replace an existing outlet on your own with basic knowledge of electrical wiring. However, more extensive work will be needed if youโ€™re replacing two-slot outlets with no third hole. These are often accompanied by older wiring that should be professionally replaced.

If your outlets arenโ€™t connected to three wires, DIY replacement isnโ€™t recommended. Three-wire outlets are located at the end of an electrical circuit. But an outlet with five wires is in the middle of the circuit and is more complicated. Only a licensed electrician should replace it.

GFCI outlets have a higher level of function than traditional ones. Testing them regularly can ensure theyโ€™re working as designed. While not necessarily a con, remembering to perform monthly tests is important. To test the outlet, press the reset button, which is the same process as restoring electricity after the GFI shuts off due to static electricity or if lightning is nearby.

If you have a GFI circuit breaker, it will disable an entire branch circuit if a ground fault is detected. The circuit will remain inactive until a fault is found and corrected. Someone must then manually reset the breaker. A GFI receptacle/outlet is advantageous in the same situation because it will disable only itself and downstream standard receptacles. Press the reset button and all affected outlets should return to normal.

Lastly, GFI outlets placed outside are vulnerable to moisture, such as rainwater, snow, condensation, and spray from lawn sprinklers.

Call Express Electrical Services to Install/Service GFI Outlets

Our electrical contractors in Los Angeles are experienced installing and servicing GFI outlets. Available 24/7, our factory trained technicians can respond to calls in 60-90 minutes. Contact us right away if you notice any electrical issues or a lack of GFI outlets in your home.

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