How to Install a GFCI for Single-Location Protection

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The ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) receptacle protects against electrical shock caused by a faulty appliance, or a worn cord or plug.

 

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Overview

The ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) receptacle protects against electrical shock caused by a faulty appliance, or a worn cord or plug. It senses small changes in current flow and can shut off power in as little as 1⁄40 of a second.

GFCIs are now required in bathrooms, kitchens, garages, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and outdoor receptacle locations. Consult your local codes for any requirements regarding the installation of GFCI receptacles. Most GFCIs use standard screw terminal connections, but some have wire leads and are attached with wire connectors. Because the body of a GFCI receptacle is larger than a standard receptacle, small crowded electrical boxes may need to be replaced with more spacious boxes.
The GFCI receptacle may be wired to protect only itself (single location), or it can be wired to protect all receptacles, switches, and light fixtures from the GFCI “forward” to the end of the circuit (multiple locations).
Because the GFCI is so sensitive, it is most effective when wired to protect a single location. The more receptacles any one GFCI protects, the more susceptible it is to “phantom tripping,” shutting off power because of tiny, normal fluctuations in current flow.
A GFCI wired for single-location protection has hot and neutral wires connected only to the screw terminals marked LINE. A GFCI connected for single-location protection may be wired as either an end-of-run or middle-of-run configuration.
A GFCI wired for multiple-location protection has one set of hot and neutral wires connected to the LINE pair of screw terminals, and the other set connected to the LOAD pair of screw terminals. A GFCI receptacle connected for multiple-location protection may be wired only as a middle-of-run configuration.
From: Complete Guide to Wiring, 4th Edition, 978-1-58923-413-0

What You'll Need

Tools:

Circuit tester
Screwdriver

Materials:

Wire connectors
Masking tape

 

Step 1

Shut off power to the receptacle

Shut off power to the receptacle at the main service panel. Test for power with a neon circuit tester. Be sure to check both halves of the receptacle.


Step 2

Remove cover plate

Remove cover plate. Loosen mounting screws, and gently pull receptacle from the box. Do not touch wires. Confirm power is off with a circuit tester.


Step 3

Disconnect all white neutral wires

Disconnect all white neutral wires from the silver screw terminals of the old receptacle.


Step 4

Pigtail the white neutral wires together

Pigtail all the white neutral wires together, and connect the pigtail to the terminal marked WHITE LINE on the GFCI


Step 5

Disconnect all black hot wires

Disconnect all black hot wires from the brass screw terminals of the old receptacle. Pigtail these wires together, and connect them to the terminal marked HOT LINE on the GFCI.


Step 6

Wrapping things up

If a grounding wire is available, connect it to the green grounding screw terminal of the GFCI. Mount the GFCI in the receptacle box, and reattach the cover plate. Restore power, and test the GFCI according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


 
 

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