According to recent studies, every year, approximately 300 people or more lose their lives worldwide, due to fire hazards caused by faulty electrical circuits and wiring. However, statistics suggest that a majority of these house fires are caused by what it is called an ‘Arc Fault’.
Keeping the safety of people in mind, Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters, or AFCIs, were introduced. These interrupters and breakers play an important role in protecting you and your home from fires hazards. To understand more, continue reading.
How do Arc Faults Cause Fires?
Arc faults usually happen when there is a discharge of high-energy between conductors. This causes arcing or jumping between wires. Arcing faults make wires extremely hot and can ignite flammable materials around them. This problem is usually caused by damaged electrical cords of deteriorated wiring that has been pinched or pierced. Therefore, you should avoid using nails or staples to keep an extension cord in place. You must also make sure the cords of your appliances are not damaged.
A single damaged or deteriorated wire can cause arcing, thus leading to fire. Arcing can also happen if the insulation around wires has deteriorated. Regular circuit breakers are not designed to prevent arcing. Therefore, they cannot stop the arcing of electricity, thus causing a fire.
Since 2002, all newly built and old homes were required to install Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters and breakers in bedrooms, main panels and in all home circuitry.
Why Should Arc-Fault Circuits be installed?
Many people feel that ground circuit breakers and arc-fault circuit breakers have the same function. However, this is clearly a misconception. As mentioned earlier, arc fault circuit breakers prevent arcing between electrical circuits and wires, which cannot be done by any other circuit breaker. This is mainly because a traditional circuit breaker is only designed for short circuits and overloads, and thus do not offer any resistance to the erratic current that flows due to arcing.
This is why it becomes important for homeowners to install arc-fault circuit interrupters and breakers. When an abnormality is observed by the breaker, the internal contacts of the arc-fault circuit interrupters trip, thus leaving the circuits blank of electricity. Therefore, this reduces the chances of an electrical fire.
Please note that the installation of arc-fault circuits can only be done by the hands of a professional. Do not try to install it yourself, as working with electricity is incredibly dangerous and only a certified, experienced and qualified electrician can handle all complications and problems faced during installation.
Once the ACFIs have been installed, make sure to test it for at least a month. The outlet looks similar to that of ground circuit breakers and features a reset and a test button. By pressing the test button, the circuit should trip. If it does not, you need to have the breaker replaced or re-installed.
As you can see arc-fault circuit interrupters play an important role in safety from fire hazards. Therefore, it is important to have an electrician install ACFIs and breakers throughout your whole house.