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    Importance of Electrical Circuit Interrupters

    August 24, 2017

    According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year in the U.S. there are over 40,000 fires related to residential electrical systems. While these statistics are concerning, recent technological advancements in the past 20 years have made it more difficult for electrical overloads and short circuits to occur. Most homeowners are familiar with circuit breakers, which were introduced decades ago to protect wiring systems from extensive harm.  More recently electrical circuit interrupters, two similarly named devices that perform different functions, have become essential in keeping homes safe from electrical hazards.

    Both GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) and AFCI (arc-fault circuit-interrupter) devices have been made mandatory in new residential builds as dictated by the NEC (National Electrical Code). A GFCI helps to prevent electric shock from faults in electrical devices used in homes. A GFCI will immediately shut off power to the circuit when a fault is indicated. An AFCI device is a circuit breaker that protects against high power discharges of electricity when it detects an electric arc within its protected circuit. Its main function is to keep a circuit from starting an electrical fire.

    Both devices are invaluable in keeping a home and household safe from destructive and life-threatening electrical hazards. If you live in an older home, your electrical system might not be protected by either. Electric Today wants to emphasize the importance of keeping your home safe from electrical hazards – and utilizing these devices is a good way to start. Read about the NEC-mandated installation requirements below and then research whether or not your home has been covered.

    GFCIs:

    Protects people from deadly shock by shutting off power to the circuit when the electricity flowing into the circuit differs from that returning. This effect is called a “leakage current” and can burn, shock and even electrocute a person. The NEC has specific requirements for where these devices must be installed within a home or apartment:

    • Bathrooms
    • Kitchens
    • Garages (and accessory buildings)
    • Unfinished Basements
    • Laundry and Utility Rooms
    • Crawl Spaces
    • Pool/Spa Areas
    • All Outdoor Receptacles

    National Electrical Code Regulations on GFCIs

    AFCIs:

    Detects hazardous arcing conditions that can cause electrical fires. Essentially circuit breakers, they are installed in an electrical panel and can quickly shut down the circuit before an arc fault can cause damage. Originally only required to protect the bedroom, the NEC now requires installation of these circuit protectors for most every room in the home. Some states and municipalities have removed this requirement during their own Code-adoption process (as the law allows). For states that comply, the NEC stipulates that AFCIs must be installed to protect the circuits for the following rooms:

    • Kitchens
    • Bedrooms
    • Dining Rooms
    • Family Rooms
    • Libraries
    • Parlor Rooms
    • Rec Rooms
    • Closets
    • Laundry Rooms
    • Hallways

    Arc Fault Detection: Your Questions Answered

    While the NEC requires the installation of both devises for new residential construction, owners of older homes should consider installing them as well. If your home is older than 20 years and has never had an electrical inspection – or recent renovation your home might not be safe. If you would like to confirm the presence of electrical circuit interrupters, or would like them installed, contact the professionals at Electric Today. Call us at 813-653-4221 and we can schedule an assessment today!