Course: RV102 - Preventive Maintenance


RV102 - Preventive Maintenance

Text lesson

RV102 – Lesson 1.3: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)


What is a GFCI outlet?

These are those electrical sockets you see that have a reset button on them, usually near water sources, bathroom, kitchen, and outside electrical receptacles. You will want to test them on a regular basis, you can use the test button on them, or you can use a device I will describe below in the polarity information.  Here are pictures of both a GFCI outlet and a regular outlet, notice the second one does NOT have a test/reset button on it, so it is chained to the one in the 1st picture. Now to throw a slight wrinkle in this section, there are also GFCI circuit breakers that you might find in your converter with rest of circuit breakers and fuses. If you have outlets that are not working (and you are hooked up to shore power or using generator), check the GFCI outlets and for a GFCI breaker in the converter box.


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What is a GFCI test? It is a test done on a GFCI outlet, you know the kind with a small light on it and a test/reset button on them as shown above. In a RV quite a few 120V electrical outlets are either GFCI receptacle or are wired to one usually in the bathroom but I have seen multiples in larger RVs. There is also the possibility of a GFCI breaker in the converter box. I have found a GFCI outlet under a kitchen sink behind the plumbing. A GFCI outlet helps in preventing shocks and electrocutions as it has a built-in sensor that monitors the inflow and outflow of the electricity from any appliance. If a live wire inside the appliance meets the metallic surface of the appliance, you will get a shock when you touch it. 


However, if you plug the appliance (like your hairdryer) into the GFCI outlet, then it will notice if there is any change in the electrical flow which may occur due to a loose wire, and it will instantly shut down the power. I use the tool to the left to simulate a loose wire and force test the GFCI outlet to trip but you can also use the button on the receptacle.  I use the tool for those described above when it does NOT have a button.

IMPORTANT: You need electricity going to the receptacle to be able to reset it.