Two electrical upgrades that will significantly improve home safety are the installation of GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters). This article will discuss the basics regarding the two circuit interrupters for homeowners to consider.
A GFCI protects people from electrical shock resulting from ground faults or electrical current leaks. Constantly monitoring the current in a circuit, a GFCI will interrupt or cut electricity if it detects either a sudden spike or a power loss. For new construction and certain remodels of homes, GFCI receptacles are required by local code to be installed in bathrooms, crawl spaces, garages, kitchens, outdoor outlets, and unfinished basements.
Wherever there is a possibility of electrical contact with water or the ground, a GFCI should be installed. According to the research of ESFI (Electrical Safety Foundation International), GFCIs have been credited for approximately a 70% decrease in electrocutions. In addition, GFCIs are also available as circuit breakers that are installed inside an electrical panel, providing ground fault protection to specific circuits within a home.
An AFCI protects a home and its residents from electrical fires. When an AFCI detects an electrical arc, it interrupts the power to the circuit. Arcing can result from damaged, faulty, or worn out wires. Loose or wet connections and incorrect wiring can also lead to arcs. Newer manufactured AFCIs are capable of distinguishing between hazardous arc faults and normal arcing due to dimmers, fluorescent lighting, and switches.
Especially appropriate for homes with old and worn out wiring, the installation of AFCIs will help provide strong home fire protection. For new constructions, the NEC (National Electric Code) requires the installation of AFCIs for circuits powering bedrooms, family rooms, living rooms, and other common areas.
Part 2 will discuss GFCI Locations, AFCI Locations, and Regular Maintenance & Testing.
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