The home owner is responsible to test their Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Outlet every month, which I am sure we all do, Right? I know after a long day of testing other peoples outlets, I do not come home and test mine. Shocking…and it could be!
Electrical manufactures have developed a GFCI outlet that will test itself every 60 seconds. It will not only check the Ground Fault function but ensure unit is correctly wired. Improperly wired GFCI outlets are quite common and considering most incorrectly wired GFCI’s are found in the home bathroom the chances of disaster are enormous.
These GFCI’s will still have the manual test mode but the diagnostic testing will be on a continuous 60 second cycle and will immediately shut down the circuit if a “Ground Fault” is detected. There will also be a red flashing light indicating unit has lost capability to provide protection. If outlet has reversed wiring condition it will not be able to be manually reset.
When manually testing GFCI the unit is tested by circuit board at the same time to ensure functional capabilities.
Typical behaviour of a GFCI outlet will disconnect a circuit whenever it detects that the electric current is not balanced between the energized (line) conductor(s) and the return (neutral) conductor. In normal circumstances, these two wires are expected to carry matching currents, and any difference usually indicates a short circuit or other electrical anomaly is present. Even a small leakage current can mean a risk of harm or death due to electric shock if the leaking electric current passes through a human being; a current of around 30mA (0.030 Amps) is potentially sufficient to cause cardiac arrest or serious harm if it persists for more than a small fraction of a second.