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Arc Fault Circuit Breakers

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Arc Fault Circuit Breakers

Arc Fault Circuit Breakers (AFCI)

An arc fault circuit interrupter is a device that breaks an electrical circuit when it detects an electric arc fault within the circuit it is protecting. It uses detection circuitry to determine if the arcing conditions are normal or unintended. An arc fault happens when electrical current flows through an unplanned path creating an unintended arc.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 40,000 fires a year were linked to home electrical wiring in the 1990s. It was also reported that over half of these fires could have been prevented if arc fault circuit interrupters had been in use. Since 2014, arc fault circuit interrupters are now required for all 15 and 20-amp branch circuits that provide power to outlets in virtually all residential rooms—bedrooms, family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, laundry rooms, recreation rooms, hallways and even closets.

Let’s dispel a couple of myths about a couple of devices similar to arc fault circuit interrupters. Arc fault circuit interrupters are not the same as conventional circuit breakers. Unlike arc fault circuit interrupters, conventional circuit breakers only respond to short circuits and overloads. They do not protect against arcing conditions that can create erratic and reduced current. Ground fault circuit interrupters are not synonymous with arc fault circuit interrupters—they both serve very important yet different roles. Ground fault circuit interrupters prevent shocks and electrocutions while arc fault circuit interrupters prevent fires. There are combination circuit interrupters that protect against both ground faults and arc faults.

Arc fault circuit interrupters can be installed in two standard methods. Special arc fault interrupter outlets can be installed in place of standard outlets. But since code requirements include all devices on the entire circuit, a more practical solution is to install an arc fault circuit breaker that replaces the standard circuit breaker and protects an entire circuit from arc faults.

If the electrical system in your home or office needs to be brought to code, do not hesitate to give Bradley Mechanical a call (804) 748-6728. Our team of certified electricians will gladly assess any issues your home or office’s electrical system may be experiencing and offer the best solutions.

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