Understanding Your Home’s Breaker Box and How to Ensure it’s Safe
According to the U.S Fire Administration, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):
- Over 26,000 home fires each year are caused by electrical problems.
- Electrical fires claim the lives nearly 300 Americans annually and injure over 1,000 more.
- The cost of property losses as a result of electrical fires yearly is more than $1 billion.
- Half of all residential electrical fires involve electrical wiring.
Your home’s breaker box is an essential part of your home’s electrical system. Serving as the main distribution point for electrical circuits in your home, the breaker box, also known as the electrical panel, consists of a number of circuit breakers. Each of these circuit breakers controls a different electrical circuit within your home. Circuit breakers are automatic switches that interrupt the flow of current in an abnormal electrical circuit.
All breaker boxes consist of a main circuit breaker, which can disrupt the flow of current to all circuits within your home and individual circuit breakers for each circuit of your home’s electrical system. Together these circuit breakers help to prevent excessive current from damaging a device within the circuit or from causing a fire.
When it comes to safety, not all circuit breakers are the same. Conventional circuit breakers only respond to overloads and short circuits, and as such do not protect against arcing conditions that produce erratic, and often reduced current. A new and much safer alternative to conventional circuit breakers is the arc-fault circuit breaker.
Arc-fault breakers are designed to detect unintended electrical arcs and disconnect the current flow before the arc can cause damage. As of January 2008, the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires the installation of arc-fault breakers in all “habitable” areas within a home with the exception of laundries, kitchens, bathrooms, garages and unfinished basements. Odds are, if your home was built before 2008 it is not as safe as it could be.
At APower, the safety of you and your family is paramount. Our team of experienced, licensed and insured electricians stay current on all national, state and local electrical codes to ensure all of the work they do is as safe as possible. In addition, we provide an affordable electrical system evaluation service that allows us to identify and remedy any potential electrical service safety issues in your home before can cause significant damage. Don’t assume your home’s electric service is safe, contact APower and make sure it is.