electrical

About Electrical Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

Oklahoma City home inspection: The AFCI breakdown

As an Oklahoma City home inspection company owner, it is my job to be concerned with the safety features that a home could have to be better. One fairly new safety feature that has become the new wave of protection for electronics is an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter. Chances are (unless you have heard this term used by an inspector during an Oklahoma City home inspection or by an electrician) you’ve never heard of this technology. Just like many homeowners, you may not know what an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) really is.

The explanation of AFCI can be somewhat complicated to newcomers, but basically it is a type of breaker designed to detect arc faults in your home’s wiring. Arcing faults are a series that an arc occurs in electrical wiring when there is a small gap or break in a conductor. A parallel arc occurs when a small gap or break permits current to flow to the ground (a ground fault) or between the hot and neutral wires (a short circuit). This is where the AFCI comes in; it trips the breaker before those arcing faults can cause a fire. This is important, because over 40,000 fires, annually, are being attributed to home electrical wiring issues.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip # 1:
If you are curious whether you have AFCI breakers in your home, you can do a simple check to find out. Go to the electrical panels to see if any of the breakers have a test button. Next, read the label to see what type of breaker it is. There are two types of AFCI breakers you may keep an eye out for: Branch Feeder (or BRAF) and Combination type.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip # 2:
Combination type breakers are the newer ones. If you have panels with the older BRAF type breakers, it is recommended to replace them with the newer Combination type AFCI breakers.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip #3:
If you do not have AFCI breakers at all, then there is more for you to consider. Currently, there is not a way for AFCI breakers to be installed into very old homes without rewiring the circuits and installing new panels that could accept the AFCI breakers. If you’re not selling your home, then making the upgrade is solely up to your judgment as a homeowner.

Keep in mind, that the upgrade to AFCI breakers could be the difference between a home fire or replacement of expensive electronic items such as your radio, television or computer. AFCI breakers are truly a safety improvement for your home.

Give me a call (405-301-3321) to find out more, or if you feel you need an Oklahoma City home inspection!