Arc-Fault Breakers in Electrical Panels and Your Home Wiring System

Arc-Fault Breakers

Was your home built before 1999? If your home was built before 1999, your home may need arc fault breakers to protect against arc-faults.  The electrical Contractors of Pacific Coast Electric Heating and Air, Inc.are able to install arc fault breakers to protect your home from potential fires.

Why does my home need Arc-Fault Breakers? Simply to protect against arc-faults, which can very easily turn into electrical fires.  In 1999 and 2002 the National Electric Code (NEC) made a code change that required arc fault breakers be installed for bedroom circuits in ALL new homes.  Since the technology was not required on most homes built before 1999, we recommend adding them to ensure safety and protection to your home.

What is an example of how arc-faulting could happen? In a home where wires were stapled too tight to the wood, over time the energy flowing through the wire may start to arc with the metal staple which will create enormous amounts of heat possibly causing the wood that it is stapled onto to catch fire.

What is an Arc-Fault? An arc-fault is an unintentional discharge of electricity in a circuit.  Arcing exists in two basic varieties:

  • Natural, or normal arcing – occurs when a light is switched on or a vacuum cleaner or any motor driven appliance is turned on.
  • Unsafe arc-faults – occur either as series or parallel faults in wire, electrical devices or connected loads.

Arcing faults can reach extremely high temperatures upwards of 9,000 degrees fahrenheit.

What causes an Arc-Fault? Arc-Faults may occur anywhere in the home’s electrical system as a result of:

  • Worn electrical insulation or damaged wire
  • Misapplied or damaged plug-in appliances cord and equipment
  • Loose electrical connections
  • Accidentally piercing electrical cable behind drywalls with drill bit, nail, or screw
  • hammering electrical cable staples too tightly into studs during rough wiring
  • natural ageing, cord exposure to heat vents, sunlight or foot traffic.

What are Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters? When unwanted arcing condition id detected, an AFCI de-energizes the circuit, and reduces the potential for a fire to occur.

Traditional circuit breakers are only intended to respond to overloads and short circuits.  Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s) are an effective means of preventing severe electrical shock by detecting loss of current in a circuit, but do not protect against arcing conditions that produce erratic current flow.  An AFCI provides a new level of protection not offered by either of these devices.

Call Pacific Coast Electric Heating and Air, Inc. at 408-212-0230