NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) studies found there are almost 48,000 home electrical fires annually. They cause more than 450 deaths, over 1,500 injuries, and property damages exceeding $1.5 billion every year.
Numerous electrical fires occur in homes constructed prior to 1970, which number more than 50% of the country’s housing. These older homes were built before the invention of many appliances and electronic devices that are now common. Nowadays, a typical home contains more TV sets than residents. This ever-growing need for electricity increases the risk of overloading the electrical system of an older home and the chances of electrical shock and fires.
The ESFI (Electrical Safety Foundation International) advises that every home built more than 40 years ago should have its electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician to check if it can safely handle modern needs. The electrician can also advise homeowners about upgrades and devices that are needed to comply with current NEC (National Electrical Code) requirements for ensuring safety. Although these are applicable only to new homes and remodels, they can still be installed in older homes as we will discuss below.
AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter)
According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates, widespread usage of AFCIs could prevent half of the electrical fires that break out annually. Extremely dangerous, an arc fault is caused by stressed or overheated wiring or devices. An AFCI is capable of a greater level of protection than a typical circuit breaker because it is able to detect and prevent arcing that can cause fires.
When they were introduced by the 1999 NEC, AFCIs were only required to be installed in every bedroom. Subsequently, the NEC recommended that AFCIs should be installed in each room of a home. Guidelines set forth by the 2014 NEC give homeowners several options for implementing AFCI protection to be in compliance. Installing AFCIs in older homes with dated and deteriorated wiring would provide greater protection from electrical fires.
Part 2 will discuss Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters and Tamper-Resistant Receptacles.
Electrical Services You Can Trust
Founded in 1991, Meyer Electrical Services provides home and commercial electrical services in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., where we are licensed and insured. Based in Bethesda, our team proudly serves all of Montgomery County. Receive a free consultation for custom electrical work today by calling (301) 941-1400.