What’s That Thing Called?

It’s in my house, but how does it work?

Get to know some important lesser-known devices around your house. They could save your life.

GFCI, Sump Pump, Electrical Panel. You may have heard these terms during a home renovation or from watching a renovation program. Don’t be concerned if you’re not familiar with them, because Focus Construction is about to tell you what they do and why you should learn more about them. It may just save your life.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)

This is an electrical outlet that is found near a water source (usually in a kitchen or a bathroom) but can also be installed in garages and accessory buildings.

How does it work?
A GFCI works by comparing the input from the neutral side and the hot side. If there is a difference in electrical current, it will quickly cut off the power for safety. Once a GFCI has been tripped, no power will come from the outlet until you press the reset button.


Why is this important?

This is very useful in areas where moisture lives because a difference in current could mean an electrical shock. For example, if a hairdryer that is plugged into a GFCI outlet falls into a water-filled sink or tub, the current will shut off and prevent electrocution. 


Sump Pump

A sump pump is a water extraction pump that is usually installed in the basement floor.


How does it work?

A sump pump is commonly installed in conjunction with a waterproofing system and is designed to keep your basement dry. The unit works through a connection to a weeping tile system that travels around your basement perimeter and forces water to enter the pump liner. Once the water enters the liner, it is extracted by the pump and directed into a French drain (a large hole filled with gravel) on your property. It eventually passes safely into the ground.

Why is this important?

This unit is very effective in preventing water from flooding your basement, saving you from a lengthy clean-up and very costly renovation.


3-in-1 Smoke Detector

These are newer units and are part of the updated building code. They should be hardwired into your house and connected to every other smoke detector. They can detect carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke, with an LED strobe light that provides temporal patterns, voice and visual warnings to alert those in the home. 


How does it work?

Once a 3-in-1 unit detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it will set off a visual and audio alarm that triggers all of the other units to do the same. Most of these newer units come with a 10-year battery backup that allows the unit to operate even if the power is off.


Why is this important?

These units are very loud and bright and most importantly, have the ability to save your life if there is a carbon monoxide leak or fire. This is especially important when you’re sleeping.


Electrical Panel

An electrical panel is a metal electrical service box that accepts main power to the home and distributes electricity throughout the house. 


How does it work? 

The distribution of power is handled by the breakers (small black switches) that have an “on” and “off” position. When a circuit detects a spark or overuse, it will trip the breaker to the “off” position. It is very important for your electrician to properly label every breaker so that you are aware of where the power goes and where it has been tripped. This informs you where the problem is and where you can reset the breaker.


Most homes have 100-amp service (amps are units of electrical current), which is usually enough to power their home; but, as we move towards electric cars and other appliances that demand high levels of electricity, it may be necessary to upgrade your server to 200 amps to futureproof your home.


If you don’t currently have an electrical panel and have an older fuse box, Focus Construction highly recommends upgrading to a modern electrical panel. This allows you to reset your tripped breakers instead of having to replace fuses, and enables you to expand or add completely new circuits. 


Why is this important?

Every home has an electrical panel and if you have a room with no power, it is important to know where the panel is located and how to reset a tripped breaker. 


If you think that you may need to upgrade, modernize, or you just have questions about any of these vital appliances, contact Focus Construction and we would be happy to assist you and help ensure the safety of both you and your home.