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.
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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!