Have you ever flipped a light switch or plugged in an electrical cord in your home and heard a popping noise? If you are like most of us, you have and you’ve never given it much thought. The truth is that simple little popping sound is actually an electrical arc or arc-fault and more importantly, a sign of a much bigger problem. If left unresolved, it could actually cost you far more than you ever expected – including your home and even the lives of your family.
The Dangers of Arc-Faults
When electricity discharges between two or more contacts, it creates a small arc of electricity between the contacts, similar to a miniature lightning bolt. This arc not only produces the familiar “popping” sound, it also produces a significant amount of heat. The fuses or circuit breaks in your home’s electrical panel are designed to protect you from electrical shorts, for example when two electrical wires actually touch each other. However, these breakers and fuses are unable to detect arc-faults. In most cases, a single arc-fault is not life threatening, but over time the heat generated by arc-faults can actually melt the protective insulation around the electrical wiring in your home, leading to an electrical fire.
According the U.S. Fire Administration, on average each year in the U.S. electrical fires:
- Destroy more than 26,000 homes
- Kill over 280 people and injure nearly 1,200 others
- Do more than $1.1 billion in property damage
The U.S. Fire Administration also found that the number one factor that contributed to electrical fires was inadequate electrical wiring. Considering that the majority of your home’s wiring is hidden within your walls, it’s nearly impossible to tell if your home’s electric service is safe. So how can your protect your home and family from the threat of a deadly electrical fire? Fortunately there is a very simple and cost effective solution: the arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI).
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters
Designed to help eliminate electrical fires the arc-fault circuit interrupter is a circuit breaker that can actually sense electrical arcs and disrupt the flow of electricity before any damage is caused to your home’s wiring. Arc-fault circuit interrupters are so effective that the National Electrical Code (NEC) began requiring their use in all homes built after 2007 and in 2014, increased the required use of AFCI circuit breakers to include nearly every room in your home. The only problem is that unless your home was built after 2014, chances are that your electrical service is nowhere near as safe as it should be.
Upgrading Your Electrical Panel
The best way to ensure your home is protected from electrical fire is to hire a knowledgeable, trusted, and licensed electrician to upgrade your home’s electrical panel. Regardless of whether your home’s electrical panel contains fuses or circuit breakers, upgrading your electrical panel and installing AFCI circuit breakers is essential to protect your home from electrical fires. Additionally, since AFCI circuit breakers can sense electrical issues your traditional circuit breaks can’t, by upgrading your home’s electrical panel your electrician can quickly identify other electrical issues your home may have and repair them before they can cause any harm to your home or your family.