Introduced to the Canadian electrical code in 2002; many don’t understand or have heard of arc fault interrupters (AFCI). Understanding their purpose and understanding what an arc fault is will help you understand their importance. 20 percent of all fires in Canada are due to electrical fires, Arc Fault Interrupters are one way to prevent an electrical fire.
What is an Arc Fault?
An arc-fault is an unintended arc created by current flowing through an unplanned path. Arcing creates excessive heat that can easily ignite surrounding materials, such as wood framing, or insulation resulting in a hazardous fire.
Common causes for an arc fault is:
- arcing in installed electrical wiring from physical damage such as; wires accidentally punctured by nails or screws, cables that are stapled tightly against wall studs, animal chewing through wiring insulation.
- heat, humidity and voltage stress
- arcing to loose connections or joints in the circuit or outlets.
- arcing in appliance or extension cords
- bent or crimped cords
- brittle or aged cords
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters: Here to Help!
An arc fault interrupter also known as; AFCI is a circuit breaker that detects potentially dangerous electrical arcs. It disconnects power as soon as it detects an arc and before a fire can start. AFCI technology in incorporated into specific circuit breakers and receptacle outlets. The arc-fault protection extends beyond branch circuit wiring by safeguarding all cords that are plugged into the receptacles. AFCI’s are designed to protect against both high current and low current arcing.
It’s in the code:
The Canadian electrical code requires homes to have arc-fault circuit protection installed for 125Vac, 15A, 20A circuits supplying receptacles throughout the home, with few exceptions. All new home builds are required to be AFCI code compliant, and homeowners considering a renovation should discuss with a certified electrician about code requirements for them.
AFCI – When it’s tripping:
On occasion you may experience receptacles or circuit breakers trip in their home. The biggest misconception when this happens is that the arc-fault interrupter has malfunctioned, when in fact that means the technology is working. When an arc is detected by the device it will result in a circuit interruption to protect your home. If a tripping event continues to occur even after you’ve reset the AFCI, it is best to call a certified electrician.
To the average homeowner, trying to understand this is like trying to learn a new language. Our goal here is to attempt to educate you a little more on the parts to the electrical system and what is happening in your home. We do not encourage you to try and attempt installing arc fault interrupters or any portion of your electrical on your own.
At Proline Electric, our certified electricians come with the knowledge, training and experience to help assure your home is safe with properly installed Arc Fault Interrupters.