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OK, now for another less-than-thrilling-but-none-the-less important subject … the switch plates and outlet covers. We have not done anything fancy here. We are using standard white plates and covers (as you can see in the photos). All of our outlets are standard or GFCI and all-hot (no half-hot outlets in which one (usually the top) plug is controlled by a switch). Some day, over a cocktail when you visit, I’ll tell you the quick story of how a half-hot outlet almost delayed my college graduation — but I digress. Suffice it to say, we have a few two-way and three-way switch banks, but nothing more elaborate than that (at this time).

Now, for the educational lesson in this post … A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet is a device that adds a greater level of safety in an area by reducing the risk of electric shock. Most building codes now require that a GFCI outlet be used in wet locations such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and outdoors. Simply, a GFCI outlet monitors for a current imbalance between the hot and neutral wires and breaks the circuit if that condition occurs. A circuit breaker usually will trip if you receive a shock, but it may not act fast enough to protect you from harm. A GFCI outlet is more sensitive and acts faster than a circuit breaker or fuse and is thus an important safety feature. You can recognize a GFCI outlet by the extra buttons on its surface. A GFCI outlet has a “Test” and a “Reset” button. Pressing the “Test” button will trip the outlet and break the circuit. Pressing the “Reset” button will restore the circuit. Please act safely in those wet areas where you are using electricity!

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