In 2011 alone, electrical fires were the cause of 418 deaths from an estimated 47,700 home structure fires according to a report by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency). According to data from the ESFi (Electrical Safety Foundation International) arcing faults are responsible for starting upwards of 28,000 home fires.
Is your home at risk?
Arcing occurs when a high concentration of electricity is flowing between two conductors very quickly. Arc faults are unintended electrical arcs that your wiring and breakers may not be equipped to handle. Wiring that is experiencing consistent arcing can create a major fire hazard. When an arc fault occurs there may not be immediate ignition, but the high, intense heat that is created can wear down and eventually ignite the material surrounding arcing wires in your walls. This can happen to the wiring within the walls of your home, hidden out of sight, completely unbeknownst to you. A typical breaker cannot distinguish the short, quick current from an arc fault as being separate from the average current in a cycle. Due to this reason, a typical breaker will not detect an arc and will not trip the circuit.
The wiring in your home can sustain damage from multiple sources, leaving your wiring more susceptible to dangerous arc faults. Wires that have degraded over time as well as wires that have been physically damaged, by animals chewing through insulation and nails or tacks placed in walls, can cause arc faults. Some of these conditions are out of the average homeowner’s control and there is almost no way to know there is a problem before disaster strikes.
How can you protect your home and family?
There are a couple of options for providing arc fault protection in your home which are AFCI, or arc fault circuit interrupter, devices. The AFCI circuit breaker is the most common solution. This breaker can be installed in your panel by a licensed electrician and will provide arc fault protection for the wiring on that circuit. It is important to have arc fault protection on all circuits that are considered dwelling areas in the home to protect yourself and your family.
The other option for arc fault protection is the AFCI receptacle. The function of the receptacle is similar to that of the AFCI breaker and also looks very similar to a GFCI receptacle. The difference between an AFCI receptacle and an AFCI breaker is where the arc fault protection is provided. An AFCI breaker provides protection to all devices and wiring on the entire circuit while an AFCI receptacle will only provide protection to devices and wiring downstream.
It is also important to note that AFCI receptacles or breakers are not the same as, nor are they a replacement for, a GFCI device. A GFCI device, or ground fault circuit interrupter device, protects you from electric shock. An AFCI device is used to protect you from electrical fires (Learn more about GFCI protection). GFCI and AFCI devices are two different pieces of equipment with separate functions that each play an important part in helping to provide safe electrical service in your home.
APower is dedicated to providing safe electrical service for you, your family, and your home. The installation of AFCI protection is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your home from the risk of accidental fire. Our team of experienced, licensed and insured electricians can assist you with the installation of arc fault protection in your home or business. Don’t wait until it is too late to protect your home and family, contact APower today.