Preventing Home Fires with AFCIs

The idea of a home fire is something that every homeowner would agree is frightening on every level. The majority of these fires, however, can be prevented by having proper Arc-fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) installed in your breaker box. They address the electrical arcing that can happen behind the walls of any home. When it occurs, an arc can burn insulation around electrical wires, allowing electricity to take a dangerous unplanned path. AFCIs can detect these unseen problems in the circuit and stop the current before it does any damage.

AFCIs have been part of the National Electrical Code since 1999, but that leaves a lot of older homes unprotected. If your home doesn’t have AFCIs, they are one of the best investments you can make for your home and personal safety. If you’re not sure if you have them or not, take a look at your breaker box. You may have AFCIs (for arcs), GFCI (for grounding), or Dual Function Breakers that are a combination of the two. They all look similar, so you will have to read the small print to determine what you’ve got.

Electrical arcing is a serious matter and, unfortunately, there aren’t always signs of a problem until it occurs. There are, however, a few things you can look out for.

Signs That Electrical Arcing May Be Occurring:

  • Plugs That Are Loose in The Outlet
  • Outlets That Don’t Work
  • Lights That Dim or Flicker
  • Tripping Circuit Breakers
  • Hot or Smoking Outlets or Switches
  • Light Bulbs That Burn Out Too Often

Why Does Arcing Happen?
When wires inside your home become frayed, cracked, or otherwise damaged, electricity can “escape,” putting anything in its path at risk. Damage can occur from an overloaded circuit, a loose connection, faulty installation, a nail, or just the degradation that happens over time. Whether your home is newer or a well-preserved relic of another era, electrical issues can pop up for anyone.

Preventing Home Fires With AFCIs
I worked with Siemen’s to create this video that explains the importance of utilizing AFCIs to ensure electrical safety. Give it a quick listen!

Always Practice the Basics

While AFCIs are an amazing piece of modern equipment, we should be careful not to be overconfident. Realistically, nothing can catch every problem. Fires also get started from human actions, storms, appliances, and more. So, never neglect the basics.

Fire Safety Checklist:

  • Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors regularly and change batteries on a schedule.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Don’t walk away from the kitchen while cooking.
  • Keep flammable objects away from heat or flame.
  • Double-check that the stove is turned off before going to bed.
  • Unplug appliances when going out of town.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended or on or near anything flammable.
  • Only run dishwashers, washing machines, or dryers when you are home.
  • If you smoke, don’t do it when you’re sleepy.
  • Keep wires and outlets in good repair.
  • Have an escape plan from every room of the house.

If you have concerns about arcing or other potential fire hazards, please don’t wait to call us. There is nothing more important than your safety!

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