GFCI Breaker Working Principle, Testing, and Tripping?

What is a GFCI circuit Breaker?

Electric Plug with GFCI
Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, Hair Dryer Electric Plug with GFCI (33349600028), CC BY 2.0

The term GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. It is a special type of outlet or plug that has a breaker inside it to protect you from the electric shock.

The GFCI trips in case of any electric fault and current flows through your body when you touch a faulty device.

Uses and Importance of GFCI Circuit Breaker

This type of circuit breaker is usually used in kitchens and bathrooms. It is also used where the electricity is used near water, for example near pools.

If a person uses any electrical instrument in a kitchen or bathroom and due to any reason the current flow surges and passes through the body into water, GFCI trips quickly.

Its fast-tripping procedure makes a high chance of saving a life and can save from bearing high electric shock.

GFCI not only protects the single instrument or the life of a person but also protects the entire circuit from burning when a short circuit occurs.

GFCI is extremely important for saving the life. So don’t leave your home missing the GFCI where the electrical instruments are in use. They are important for the well-being of the home occupants.

Note that it will be a good strategy to call an electrician before switching the electricity back on. In this way, the main fault will be found by the electrician reducing the chances of a short circuit again.

I have a detailed article about Why is your circuit breaker is tripping, read it for more information

How Does GFCI Circuit Breaker Work?

A normal GFCI works in the following steps:

When any electrical conductor comes in contact with the device body and current passes through it into your body, the GFCI senses the differences in the flow of electricity coming into the circuit and going out of it.

When it senses the differences in current, the circuit breaker present inside the GFCI trips quickly. It also senses the small currents even in milliamps. This means that whenever a small difference is detected, it breaks the circuit and protects you.

They are simple and easy to apply at home. If one GFCI circuit breaker is installed in the breaker box, it will protect all the appliances, wiring, and other electrical devices connected to the circuit.

Types of GFCIs

Three types of GFCIs are known these days commonly:

  • The most familiar of which is the receptacle type GFCI. These days the use of GFCI receptacles has become very common.
  • GFCI circuit breakers are also used in place of miniature circuit breakers and they give protection to all the appliances connected to the circuit.
  • Plug GFCI is the other type.

Difference between Circuit Breaker and GFCI

GFCI and the circuit breaker are two separate electrical protection devices. Both do the same work of cutting the power in the case of a short circuit.

GFCI also gives protection to the home’s residents from getting an electrical shock when the electrical appliances come in contact with water or a human body. A simple circuit breaker can’t do this task.

Ground fault protection is the key difference between GFCI and MCB.

Testing the GFCI Circuit

For accurate working, it is very important to check if the GFCI circuit breaker is working normally or not. It is necessary to test its working because it is an electrical device that can be damaged or any other problem may also occur in it, such as burning or melting due to heat.

Many consumers don’t check the GFCI circuit breaker’s normal working and bear a large amount of loss if the GFCI circuit breaker is not working properly in the case of an emergency.

FOr more information read my article, Bad Circuit Breaker, Signs, Causes ,and Repair.

How to Test?

  1. Bring a testing device, like a lamp, AVO meter, or a non-contact voltage tester.
  2. Insert the testing device into the outlet, and press the test button on the outlet.
  3. The power should go off. If not then this outlet is damaged and needs to be replaced.
  4. Press the test button again, the power should be on again.

You should have your own hand and test tools at home to be able to check your electrical devices safely and quickly.

GFCI Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

Tripping is how a circuit breaker does its main job, Which is protection. Most of us do the same thing when a breaker trips, reset the breaker.

But what if the breaker still trips immediately? In this case, the breaker is doing its job or it is damaged.

If the circuit and wiring have a fault, then it’s normal for a breaker to trip.

Shortly, the main reasons for CB tripping are:

I Wrote a detailed article about CB tripping. I highly recommend reading,  Reasons for CB tripping, What Should You Do?