An electrical outlet is dormant until the plug of an electrical appliance is slotted into place. This is because the hot and neutral wires are not connected with one another to form a complete circuit. When the plug of an electrical appliance is slotted into place, the circuit is completed. Electricity passes out through the hot socket, into the hot side of the appliance's plug, into the appliance, then out through the other side of the appliances plug, and back into the neutral socket.
Electrical Outlet Safety Measures
Many, but not all, outlets also have two buttons at the center. This is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI. It monitors the flow of electricity from the hot to the neutral wire. If the amount of electricity passing out the hot end is greater than the amount coming back through the neutral end, the GFCI throws an internal breaker that cuts off the flow of electricity through the outlet. It does this because there is only one reason the flow of electricity could be greater going out than coming back in, a short circuit. This may be the result of using a damaged electrical appliance that begins to spark and is a serious hazard to one's health. It may also mean that the excess electricity is flowing through a human body, causing electrocution. The ground hole is not always found on all electrical outlets. This is because it is a relatively new feature that is not necessary for the use of an electrical appliance. However, should a power surge occur for any reason, the excess electricity will be sent down through the ground wire to be dissipated harmlessly. If there were no ground wire in use during a power surge, a running electrical appliance may break or even explode, causing a serious electrocution hazard.