AFCI & Electrical Safety.

I used to turn off the Main Breaker to change a light bulb.  Electric just freaked me out.  Now, my clients remark about my bravery when I stick my fingers in open panels.  It’s more like stupidity.  Mind you, I don’t do it to be brave and most inspectors still don’t do it, and quite frankly, there isn’t a good reason to be doing it.  There are certain hazards associated with this and it is not a recommended practice, however sometimes I still do it.  Hard headed Italian comes to mind…

My point is (or started out to be) that electricity, while a wonderful convenience, is still something to be respected.  Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters were one of the great inventions for saving lives.  It’s not like I throw appliances in the sink while I’m washing dishes, but knowing the protection is there is comforting.

Standards for Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI’s) were being developed in the mid 1990’s and in January, 2002, AFCI’s were required in dwelling unit bedrooms.  AFCIs detect dangerous electrical conditions and shut the circuit off before an electrical fire has a chance to ignite.  Now protection is required in other rooms of the house.  It’s a good idea. While GFCIs save your life, AFCIs save your house.

Take for instance you see this nice lamp at a yard sale that would fit perfectly in the foyer or over a workbench in the garage (obviously not the same lamp).  Small lamp cords especially, can break down internally as well as on the outside.  Over a period of time it starts to ‘arc’ and eventually can start a fire.  I’m always telling my family to not walk on the extension cords to the floor fan or the iron.  Ever notice the ceramic holder for the light bulb spin just a little when you change the bulb?  So many things are potential hazards.  Arc fault fires are sleeping monsters.  AFCI breakers prevent the monsters from coming to life.

For more information see;

http://www.afcisafety.org/

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/afcifac8.pdf

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