Check your outdoor GFCI Protection

Spring has finally pushed its head above the snow and soon the outside projects will start. Is your GFCI protection in proper working order? Many of the tools that are used today for yard work require electricity. Be sure your outdoor electrical outlets are in good working order and that the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection is working properly.

If your outside outlet looks like this than you have a GFCI outlet installed.

If it looks like a regular outlet it may be protected by a GFCI outlet in another location or there may be a GFCI breaker in your breaker box.

The easiest way to test a GFCI outlet is to push the test button in the middle of the outlet, if it trips great all that is needed is to push the reset button and your good to go.  If the outlet will not trip or reset after a test button is pushed the outlet needs to be replaced.

If there is not a GFCI outlet in place check the breaker box for GFCI breakers and test the one feeding the outside outlet. The breaker should trip when the test button is pressed, if so reset it and your good to go, if it will not reset it must be replaced.

There are several inexpensive GFCI testers for testing an outlet available in stores.  This is another very good way to test GFCI protection.

Keep in mind however that a GFCI protected circuit that has no ground wire will not trip using one of these outlet testers. The ground fault protection will still work if it is functioning properly without a ground wire, so GFCI protection can still be used on a two-wire circuit.

You can also find inexpensive personal GFCI protection devices that can be plugged into an outlet and have a place to plug your tool into the device.  This will give you personal GFCI protection if you are not sure protection is available.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection is required by code for outside outlets and should always be used for power tools being used outdoors even if you have run the cord through a window and plugged into an indoor outlet.  GFCI protection will keep you from being electrocuted while working outdoors.