Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters, or AFCIs, are an important addition to the home. To ensure the safety of your home, have an arc fault breaker installed for your receptacles!
What is an arc fault?
An arc fault is an unintended and highly-powered discharge of electricity that generates high-intensity heating at the point of the arc. This heating can exceed 10,000 degrees fahrenheit and is incredibly dangerous, breaking down wiring insulation and igniting surrounding material (like wood framing) with the potential to trigger an electrical fire.
There are two types of arc faults: parallel arcs and series arcs. A series arc can occur when the conductor in a series breaks, creating a gap where electricity jumps from one point to another within the same phase. Series arcs are generally less likely to cause a fire since the current is usually no higher than the already-existing load current, but should still be prevented whenever possible.
Meanwhile, a parallel arc can occur due to a short circuit or ground fault and is considered much more dangerous. In a parallel arc, electricity jumps between wires of different voltages, creating a current that can vary widely and be very high.
What causes arc faults?
What makes arc faults so dangerous is that they can occur anywhere in the home’s electrical system and are often unseen since most wiring and cables are designed to remain out of sight. Arc faults can be caused by wire degradation, occurring naturally through aging, with old/cracked wires and cords damaged by sunlight, heat, or humidity. Extended mechanical or voltage stress can also be a contributing factor.
Arc faults can be caused as well by physical damage in walls from nails, screws, or staples driven into wires, within electrical cords by furniture or doors breaking them, and if you have an animal, there’s also a chance of them chewing through the insulation of wiring.
Faulty wiring is another significant contributing factor, with loose connections and poor wiring increasing the likelihood of arc faults occurring.
How do Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters prevent arc faults?
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers are designed to automatically detect arc faults, responding by cutting off the power. This prevents house fires by stopping the home’s electrical system from igniting, which is why getting arc fault protection is extremely important for safety purposes.
An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter breaker is an additional breaker added to your home’s local service panel. Like any other breaker, when tripped, the homeowner can reset it at the breaker panel.
An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet, meanwhile, replaces a standard outlet and can be recognized through the distinct ‘TEST’ and ‘RESET’ buttons. When tripped, the homeowner can simply press the ‘RESET’ button located on the outlet. AFCI outlets are often preferred due to their user-friendliness and easy accessibility. They can also work with any type of wiring, usually independent of having to be compatible with your electrical panel.
How do I get an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter installed?
Not every outlet in your home has to be an AFCI, but it’s recommended to have enough to cover all of the branch circuits in your home. When an AFCI replaces the first outlet in a branch circuit, your remaining outlets in the same circuit should also be provided protection.
Since working with circuits and wiring requires specialized knowledge, it’s highly recommended to have a licensed electrician perform the job. This will not only ensure that the job is done correctly, but will keep you and your property safe.
Need an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter installed? Want to know more about arc faults and how to prevent them?
Contact MADE ELECTRIC today! We are a trusted electrical contractor that operates in Toronto and the GTA, with a professional and fully licensed team. Our number one priority is ensuring that you and your home are safe and protected from the elements. Having Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters installed into your home is the first step.
Our company can be reached at any time through our contact page, and are also happy to receive your calls at +1 (833) 623-3247, or e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org.