Humidifiers are great for coping with dry indoor air in winter. Extremely dry air can cause itchy skin and even nosebleeds in susceptible individuals. Humidifiers raise the ambient humidity in areas such as bedrooms and family rooms, which can give relief to some of the issues associated with prolonged exposure to dry air.
However, even though humidifiers expel moistened air in a specific direction, the moistened air will be more concentrated in the area surrounding the humidifier, including the outlet into which it is plugged. Wet conditions around an electrical outlet present a danger of electric shock or electrocution because of improper grounding caused by moisture.
This danger can be minimized through replacing your regular outlet with a GFCI outlet.
What is a GFCI outlet?
A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet is designed for use in wet or damp conditions. The outlet detects when the outlet is no longer safely grounded and shuts off power to the outlet. A reset switch in the middle of the outlet must then be pushed to make the outlet operational again, but will not activate the outlet until the safety concern has been corrected.
Installing a GFCI outlet
You don't need to be an electrical contractor to change an outlet, but you do need to be as mindful of the danger of electricity as a professional electrician.
When you purchase a GFCI outlet, you must also buy a open face plate instead of a traditional face plate that leaves only the two receptacles exposed. This is because GFCI outlets have their reset button (and in some models an activation light) in the middle of the two receptacles.
Removing your old outlet
You will begin by performing the most crucial step in the job, which is shutting off the power to the outlet. You can do this by shutting off the circuit breaker that controls the flow of power to the outlet. If you're not certain that the breaker you choose is the correct choice, plug a working appliance into the outlet. It will shut off when the correct breaker is turned off.
You'll need both a flat head and philips head screwdriver to remove the outlet. The flat head screwdriver will be used to remove the single center screw of the face plate. Use the philips head screwdriver to remove the two screws that hold the outlet inside the gang box in the wall. Pull the outlet from the wall.
You'll see either one or two sets of three wires connected to the outlet. Remove them by turning the terminal screws in a counterclockwise direction. If two sets of wires are present, keep them apart.
Installing the GFCI outlet
If one set of wires is present, you will connect them to the top "load" portion of the GFCI outlet. The black wire will be connected to the gold terminal, the white wire to the silver terminal, and the green or copper wire to the green terminal. Tighten all terminal screws in a clockwise direction until the wires are secured.
If you have a second set of wires, connect them to the bottom "line" portion of the GFCI outlet in a similar manner.The second green or copper wire will be connected to the single green grounding terminal with the first wire.
Check the instructions of the open face plate before pushing the outlet into the gang box in the wall and securing it with the two screws provided. Open face plates usually have a two piece sub-plate that is placed around the outlet before it is screwed into place. The open face plate is then pushed onto the sub-plate and snaps into place.
Turn on the breaker and you're finished. If you find that your humidifier shuts off your GFCI outlet, you might consider moving the humidifier farther from the outlet or lessening the intensity of its output. It's better to be inconvenienced than electrocuted, so don't disparage the outlet if it performs its duty well. Visit http://attaboyservices.com/ for more information.