Hair dryers are extremely common, especially among women and girls with
medium to long hair. Just about every household has one and they’re
standard in hotel rooms across the country. If you regularly rely on a
hair dryer to style your hair, you’ve probably noticed the red and
yellow buttons on the plug that say “test” and “reset.”
But if you’re like many users, you don’t have a clue as to
why they’re standard on all hair dryers.
Most people know all about the test and reset buttons, especially because
sometimes their hair dryer won’t work until they press one of the
buttons. So, what are these buttons for? Are they there in case the hair
dryer overheats? Do they act as power buttons? Read on as we shed light
on this once and for all.
Appliance Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ALCIs)
All modern-day hair dryers are equipped with what is called Appliance Leakage
Circuit Interrupters or ALCIs, and that’s the part of the hair dryer
that has the red and yellow test and reset buttons.
Have you ever noticed that white plastic notice attached to hair dryers
with a picture of a bathtub and some warning written in black or red about
not putting the hair dryer in the bathtub because it can cause an electric
shock? Well, years ago, children were being electrocuted when they played
with hair dryers in the bathtub, or when hair dryers accidentally fell
in the bathtub while children were bathing.
When any electrical appliance, whether it’s a hair dryer or a toaster,
is plugged in and immersed in water, the electricity from the appliance
can shock a person. Since circuit breakers don’t usually react fast
enough to prevent this from happening (they’re predominately meant
to prevent electrical fires), manufacturers found a solution: they started
making ALCIs standard in all hair dryers.
How Do ALCIs Work?
If the ALCI detects that something changes to the electrical current; for
example, a change that is caused by a hair dryer falling into a bathtub,
the ALCI immediately cuts power to the appliance. The idea is that ALCIs
will save lives, especially those of children because kids are the ones
who are most susceptible to this danger.
Even though hair dryers are safer now that they’re equipped with
ALCIs, we do not recommend experimenting by dropping a hair dryer into
a bathtub, and we do not recommend ignoring the safety label warning you
about immersing the appliance in water. But if it does happen accidentally,
the ALCI should prevent electrocution.
If you’re using a hair dryer and the ALCI shuts off the power to
the appliance, our advice is turn off the hair dryer and unplug it. Press
the reset button and then plug the hair dryer back into the outlet. What
about the test button? The purpose of the test button is to allow you
to cut off the power to the hair dryer manually. As the name suggests,
it also lets people test the hair dryer to make sure the ALCI button works.
Electrical Tips for the Bathroom
To test the hair dryer, plug it in and press test. If the ALCI button is
working, the hair dryer should stop working. To get it to work again,
unplug it, press the reset button and plug it back in. And now, you finally
know what the reset and test buttons are there for!