When it comes to your home electrical system, safety should be your number one priority. Electricity can be dangerous when your wiring isn't connected properly, and a house fire can rip through your home and possessions with alarming speed, putting you and your family's very lives at risk. One common cause of fires is an electrical arc in the circuits behind your walls, when current jumps on an unplanned path from one conductor to another, potentially igniting wood or insulation along the way. Fortunately, you can protect your home against electrical arcs with arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). Read on to learn more.
Your Electrician Can Keep You Safe
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 47,700 residential fires caused by electrical failures in 2011, causing 418 deaths and $1.4 billion in damage. Any steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim to one of these disastrous events is money well spent. And while conventional circuit breakers will automatically shut down if a circuit shorts or gets overloaded, they are unable to detect most electrical arcs. That's where the AFCI comes in.
The AFCI works by monitoring the current passing through the circuit, searching for unusual activity that could indicate an arc. When a problem is detected, the device immediately shuts down the circuit, lowering any opportunity the arc could have to start a fire. Keep in mind that some of your appliances or equipment may intentionally create arcs, but in a safe manner – the AFCI should recognize them and only trip during dangerous arcing conditions.
Find Out if Your Family is Protected
Your local code almost definitely requires your home to include ACFIs for circuits that lead to bedrooms, and if your municipality has updated its code in the past year, it may require interrupters for every circuit in the home. However, if your home was built before 2000, it may not have AFCIs installed at all, and it may be worthwhile to make an upgrade.
If you aren't sure if you have arc fault circuit interrupters, open the door of your main panel and look inside. Circuits that have AFCI capabilities are usually indicated by a yellow or green label. If you can't tell, ask an electrician to inspect your wiring and verify whatever safety features are included. The electrician can also make recommendations about whether you should consider upgrading your circuits and give an estimate on how much it would cost.
Don't Let Your Circuits Create a Disaster
If you need help installing arc fault circuit interrupters in your home, or otherwise bringing your wiring up to code, contact an expert electrician today.