The cold dry air of winter, combined with the extra dried air that is being blown from your forced air furnace, would have your skin dried and cracked if it wasn't for your trusty humidifier.
Humidifiers are not only useful for keeping your skin moist, but also help to make your home feel warmer because they raise the humidity level of the home.
However, it's just this useful feature that may present the danger of electric shock or even electrocution. This is especially true if the humidifier is placed close to the outlet that powers it.
Fortunately, this safety risk can be eliminated by replacing the current outlet with a GFCI outlet.
What is a GFCI outlet?
A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet is designed for damp or wet locations. It is able to detect subtle changes in electrical current that signify the presence of improper grounding. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, so wet locations are at risk for grounding faults.
What do you need to replace your current outlet with a GFCI outlet?
A 15 amp GFCI outlet
A 15 amp GFCI outlet has the same receptacle configurations (two parallel slots and a round ground opening) as your old receptacle.
An open face (cover) plate
Your old outlet has a face plate that only reveals the two receptacles. An open face plate is a simple rectangular frame that also leaves the center of the outlet exposed. A GFCI outlet has a test button and a reset button in the center between the two receptacles.
The open face plate is installed over a sub-plate, which is included when you purchase the plate.
Philips and flat head screwdrivers
Removing your old outlet
Any electrician, even an amateur, knows the first rule of electrical work. Turn off the power to the component on which you will be working. No exceptions or short cuts. Failure to cut the power could mean serious injury, fire, or death.
You will do this by turning off the circuit breaker that controls power to the outlet. When this is done, you can remove the old cover plate and loosen the two screws that hold the outlet inside the gang box in the wall. Next, you will pull the outlet from the wall.
Disconnect all wires from the terminal screws that connect them to the outlet. Keep all wires separated.
Connecting the GFCI outlet
Before connecting the wiring, slip the sub-plate for the open face place around the outlet.
If you have one set of three wires, you will connect them to the top "load" section of the outlet. The black wire will be connected to the brass screw terminal, the white wire to the silver terminal, and the green wire to the green terminal.
If a second set of three wires is present, this indicates that the outlet is in the middle of a circuit that powers other outlets. This is fortunate, because the GFCI outlet will offer identical protection to each outlet beyond its location in the circuit.
You will connect these three wires to the bottom "load" section of the outlet in the same manner as the line section. The second green wire will share the single green grounding terminal.
Push the outlet into the gang box inside the wall, and secure it with the two screws. Snap the face plate onto the sub-plate, turn on the breaker, push in the reset button on the outlet, and the job is complete.
It may be a good idea to have a professional electrician install your GFCI outlet for you.