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Wednesday, 22 March 2023 17:16

Electrical Arc Faults

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The National Fire Protection Association reports that every year around 50,000 fires in the U.S. are caused by some kind of electrical failure or malfunction. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 50% of electrical fires could be prevented by using Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs).

What Is An Arc Fault?

When an electrical device or wiring becomes damaged, overheated or over-stressed it increases the chances of an electrical arc. For example, a wire behind a wall may become damaged when a nail is driven through the drywall, or an electrical cord may become worn out from repeated use, causing the insulation to crack and the wires inside to make contact.

Other causes of arc faults include:
  • Loose or improper connections, such as electrical wires to outlets or switches
  • Frayed appliance or extension cords
  • Pinched or pierced wire insulation
  • Cracked wire insulation caused by age, heat, or repeated bending
  • Overloaded wires or cords
  • Damaged or malfunctioning appliances
  • Rodent damage to electrical wiring
It's important to ensure your home's electrical system is kept in good working order by preventing any of the conditions above from occurring and repairing any damage as soon as it's found.

Arc-Fault Circuit Interupter

There are several kinds of arc-fault prevention devices found in homes, they include:

AFCI Receptacles

These are outlets that are installed in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and other areas of the home where water is more likely to come into contact with electrical devices. They
have a reset and a test button. AFCI receptacles provide
protection for downstream wire and appliances.

Branch/Feeded AFCI Breaker

This is the original AFCI breaker that was required starting in 1999 to meet the National Electrical Code (NEC). They provide improved fire protection by tripping when a parallel arc is detected between hot and neutral conductors.

Combination AFCI's

Branch/Feeder AFCI breakers were phased out starting in 2008 and replaced with Combination Type AFCIs. They work similarly, but offer enhanced fire protection by detecting lower level series arching in both branch circuits and power cords.
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