While the phrase “arc fault,” may not be very well known to most homeowners, it could spell disaster if not properly addressed and prevented. Fortunately, AFCIs (Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters) can protect against the risk of arc faults and keep your home safe from their potential dangers.
Let’s take a look at four of the most essential functions of AFCIs and find out why having AFCI protection is key to keeping your home safe.
When wires are loose or corroded it can lead to what electricians call arcing, which in layman’s terms we would call sparking. When arcing occurs it means the wires may heat up, which in the most extreme cases creates the potential for an electrical fire.
Arc faults are different from ground faults, which is a specific type of short circuit. When a ground fault occurs, an energized current — what electricians would call a “hot” current — accidentally comes into contact with the ground.
For a long time now, the electrical code has called for GFCIs (Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters) to be in place in any location where ground faults are likely to occur, but it’s important to note that GFCIs do not protect against arc faulting.
Arc faults can sometimes serve as precursors to ground faults, but because they are distinct, they require their own form of detection, which is what makes AFCIs so important.
There are two different types of arc faults, known as series and parallel arcing. Fortunately, in recent years more modern AFCIS, called “combination” AFCIs, can protect against both kinds.
Electricity is a modern necessity and there’s no doubt that it improves our quality of life in countless ways. But it also presents two potential dangers: the risk of electric shock and, in the most extreme cases, the risk of fire.
As mentioned above, GCFIs have long protected electricians and homeowners against the risk of electric shock, but unfortunately, they do nothing to address the second major concern of fire risk.
ACFIs serve to fill that gap and reduce the risk of fire by sensing patterns on both the sine and wave. If the ACFI discovers a pattern that could potentially result in arcing — and therefore create a further potential for fire — it disables the electricity, which neutralizes the risk.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that installing AFCIs into a home’s electrical system can cut the risk of an electrical fire by 50 percent.
AFCIs are particularly important in any room or area of the house that has especially high electricity demands.
For instance, in your kitchen, you likely have a number of large appliances that require high amounts of electricity to operate properly.
Any time you have a high demand for electricity, it also creates an increased potential for arcing, meaning that room is at greater risk of a fire. AFCIs reduce the risk and provide peace of mind that your most in-demand rooms are safe, despite their increased use of electricity.
Renovating a room in your house is a great way to improve your living experience and add value to your home. Yet if your contractor is not familiar with proper electrical safety protocols, it could potentially increase the risk of an electrical fire.
Having AFCIs in place gives a sense of ease knowing that if your contractor accidentally does something that causes arcing, the AFCI will disable the electricity and neutralize the problem.
Maybe the biggest benefit of AFCIs is that they’re proactive, rather than reactive. AFCIs don’t just disable the electricity when they detect arcing, they shut it down any time they detect a pattern that potentially could lead to arcing.
Should arcing occur and lead to an electrical fire, the results could be devastating. Depending on the size and scope of the fire, it could lead to serious financial costs, the loss of your home or even the loss of life.
By proactively shutting down the system when even a hint of risk is detected, AFCIs allow homeowners and electricians to get ahead of the problem and correct any arcing before it becomes a major problem.
Arcing can be a very serious problem in a contemporary home that — at its most extreme — could put your house at risk of fire. By installing AFCIs to detect risk and disable the electricity when needed, you significantly reduce the chances of an electrical fire occurring and keep your home protected.
At Hi-Lite Electric, we can provide AFCI protection by performing panel upgrades that reduce the chance of an electrical fire, eliminate doubled-up circuits and increase the resale value of your home.
To learn more about AFCIs and protecting your home from electrical fires, call Hi-Lite Electric at 416-800-5536 or contact us here.
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