Each year, there are nearly 380,000 electrical fires in the United States. One of the leading causes of a house fire is an electrical fire. In fact, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrical fires account for around 51,000 of these. Fortunately, you can protect yourself and your family from the risk of a fire with an AFCI circuit breaker.
The terms short-circuit and arc fault tend to be used interchangeably but they’re completely distinct concepts. A short-circuit is when the flow of electricity increases to the point where it exceeds what the circuit breaker can handle, causing it to “trip”. An arc fault, on the other hand, is when intermittent contact causes wires to “arc” or spark, creating the risk of an electrical fire.
Chances are that you’ve noticed arcing but weren’t aware that it was what you were hearing. When a light switch makes a hissing sound, corroded wires are likely sparking. This breaks down the insulation around the wires, increases the risk of a fire. Keep in mind, however, that hissing doesn’t always translate to arcing, but it does indicate a potential problem that your electrician needs to address.
An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) keeps you safe from the risk of an electrical fire. Since electrical fires are often caused by faulty outlets, an AFCI disables the outlet as soon as it detects arcing. Keep in mind that an AFCI is not a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) that protects people from electric shocks. An AFCI is designed to protect people and property from an electrical fire. However, as a homeowner, you need to install an AFCI and a GFCI in outlets according to the National Electrical Code (NEC).
The NEC states that you should install an AFCI circuit in 15- and 20- ampere, 120-volt, single-phase outlets. As a general rule, though, you should install an AFCI circuit into all outlets since they’re all at risk of arcing or sparking.
Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why you need AFCI protection:
Arcing is when electrical wires corrode or loosen. It occurs when wires get too hot, which creates the potential for an electrical fire. Arc faults can often trigger a ground fault which a GFCI can detect, however, since a GFCI can’t detect arc faults, you’ll need to install an AFCI, as well.
If you don’t install AFCIs, there’s a chance of a house fire each day. With an AFCI, you’ll have a device that detects arcing and that automatically renders the outlet inoperative.
If your appliances are demanding in terms of energy, there’s a greater chance of arcing. Install AFCIs in areas that use a lot of electricity (e.g. kitchen) to reduce the risk of an electrical fire.
If you don’t know how to install an AFCI, let the pros take care of it. It can be complicated because you’ll need to find the specific line wires that lead to each outlet, as well as the load wires. Get in touch with an ACFI professional to schedule an installation. Do it now while it isn’t too late. Call Beeson Mechanical Service for all your electrical needs at 317-535-9338!