Orchids need specific climate conditions to survive and thrive. They cannot stand hot weather, but they require higher humidity and circulating air.
Air cooling and circulation can be handled by an air conditioner. However, air conditioners also remove humidity form the air, so a separate humidifier is needed to create the optimal climate for your orchids.
Humidifiers create naturally moist conditions, which can create a danger of electric shock or electrocution if moisture builds at the location of your electrical outlet.
You can solve this problem by converting the outlet to a GFCI outlet.
What is a GFCI outlet?
A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet is a specialized type that can detect fluctuations in grounding, including those caused by exposure to moisture. If an outlet is not properly grounded, your body can be part of the circuit if you come into contact with the ungrounded current.
A GFCI outlet will shut off power when grounding becomes compromised, and won't allow the power to be restored to the outlet until the hazardous condition has passed.
What do you need to install a GFCI outlet?
This type of outlet is much more expensive than a traditional outlet, but can still be purchased for less than $20 at your local home improvement store.
Open face plate
Unlike the face plate that covers and protects your current outlet, an open face plate is essentially a square frame with no center bar between the receptacles. This type is needed because a GFCI Outlet has a reset button and either an indicator light or a test button in the center that needs to be exposed.
Flat head and Philips head screwdrivers
Removing the old outlet
You will first need to turn off the breaker that controls power to the outlet. This is absolutely essential, because you cannot work with live wires without risk of serious injury, fire, or death.
Once this is done, use the flat head screwdriver to remove the old face plate. Use your Philips head screwdriver to loosen the upper and lower screws that hold the old outlet in place inside the gang box in the wall.
Pull the outlet from the box and disconnect all wires by loosening the screw terminals on the sides and pulling the wires free.
Installing the GFCI outlet
You will have disconnected either one or two sets of three wires. If one group of three wires is present, you will connect them to the top "line" section of the outlet.
Connect the black wire to the brass terminal, the white wire to the silver terminal, and the green or copper wire to the green terminal by looping the wires around the terminal screws and tightening them until they are secured.
If a second group of three wires is present, connect the wires in the same manner to the bottom "load" portion of the terminal. The second green or copper wire can be connected to the single green grounding terminal along with the first ground wire.
Place the sub-plate that was included with the open face plate around the edge of the outlet, and push the outlet into the gang box inside the wall.
Secure it with the upper and lower screws provided, then snap the face plate onto the sub-plate until it clicks into place.
Turn on the breaker, hit the reset button on the GFCI outlet, and get the humidifier started for your exotic but demanding orchids. For more information and help, contact an electrician, like one from Midway Electric Inc.