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The U.S. Fire Administration reports that between 2017-2019, electrical residential fires caused nearly 25,000 fires each year, which resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries and more than $1 billion in property loss. And, according to a report released by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2022, 46,700 home fires involving electrical failure or malfunction occurred between 2015-2019; 63% of these fires were caused by arcing (arc fault).

What is arcing in electrical systems?

An arc fault occurs when the electrical current takes a rerouted (wrong) path through the wiring. It creates an intense heat point, which can reach temperatures as high as 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and will easily ignite surrounding materials such as insulation and framing. (That’s why victims of electrical wires often report that there was “fire inside the walls.”) Arcing occurs when electrical wiring or devices become damaged, overheated, or stressed. Arc faults can occur when older wires become frayed or cracked, when a nail or screw damages a wire behind a wall, or when outlets or circuits are compromised.

What is arc fault protection (AFCI)?

AFCI, or arc fault circuit interrupter, is an advanced circuit breaker that can be installed in your home. It sends signals through the electrical system and if it senses the danger of arcing anywhere in your house, it will shut down the circuit. It’s important to note that AFCI is different from GFCI, which is a breaker designed to prevent electrical shock; it won’t prevent electrical fires. Combine AFCIs with whole home surge protection to keep your appliances and devices safe and extend their lifespan. Both AFCIs and GFCIs should be professionally installed and regularly tested.

The NFPA and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are optimistic that AFCIs will drastically reduce electrical fires, with the CPSC predicting that these breakers could reduce more than 50% of electrical fires annually.

Are AFCIs required?

The 2020 National Electric Code® states that AFCIs shall be installed in the following areas:

Laundry areas
Living rooms
Family rooms
Rec rooms
Parlors, libraries, or dens

AFCIs should be integrated into your existing family fire safety plan which should include smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and an escape route plan.

Professional Arc Fault Installation

If you would like to learn more about AFCIs and having them installed in your home in Central Ohio, contact SAFE Electric, LLC at 614-914-4856. One of our certified electricians will be happy to meet with you to discuss how AFCI will work in your home and give you an estimate. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you have done all you can to protect your investments and your loved ones. Schedule an electrical call today with our online form.