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A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is an extremely reliable device, but like any electronic unit it can become damaged over time. Because many older GFCIs can provide power even if they’re not working correctly, they act as live receptacles without offering your family protection from dangerous ground faults.

Without regular monthly testing, you can’t confirm that a GFCI outlet is providing the protection you expect, unless you installed a new lockout-style GFCI during the past few years. This type of GFCI includes special circuitry that prevents it from resetting if it’s not operating properly or the outlet is wired incorrectly – and power won’t be available until the problem is fixed. Many lockout GFCIs also include a small indicator light to let you know when the device is functioning normally. Safety Matters When was the last time you tested your GFCIs? 

No matter what type of GFCI you have, it’s important to test it monthly. Checking a standard GFCI takes less than a minute and may save your life. 

  • First, plug a lamp or radio into the GFCI, and turn the lamp or radio on. 
  • Press the TEST button on the GFCI; the lamp or radio should go off. 
  • Press the RESET button on the GFCI; the lamp or radio should come back on. 
  • If the lamp or radio doesn’t go off when you push the TEST button, the GFCI isn’t working properly and should be replaced. 

If you have a GFCI with the lockout feature, the test procedure is the same – except for the last step. If the lamp or radio doesn’t go on when you push the RESET button, the lockout GFCI isn’t working properly and should be replaced.

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