According to the U.S. Fire Administration, every year approximately 26,000 residential electrical fires happen resulting in roughly $1 billion in property damage. This unsettling statistic is an eye-opening fact of why it is important for people to have the appropriate residential outlets installed. As stated last week, there are numerous t types of outlets. It can be tricky to decide what one to use. Today we will discuss GFCIs and AFCIs in the continuation of the two-part series focused on basic residential outlet knowledge.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, also known as GFCI, outlets are commonly found near a water source. These outlets are meant to shut off fast when they detect a ground fault or short circuit. The GFCI receptacle works by measuring the electricity flowing from the hot wire to the electrical device and back into the neutral wire. Normally, the electricity flowing from the hot wire is equal to the electricity flowing back into the neutral wire, however, if the appliance is dropped into water, the GFCI receptacle would detect the uneven electrical flow and it would instantly trip the internal breaker. The benefits of this would be to reduce the risk of electric shock and fire. When properly wired, the GFCI outlets will protect the other outlets that share the same circuit.
Like GFCI outlets, Arc Faulty Circuit Interrupters, AFCIs, can help make your home safer. AFCI outlets are similar to the GFCI but the AFCI outlets also protect from dangerous arcs. An arc is when the electric flow skips from one wire to another, potentially causing a fire. Typically, wire insulation can help stop arcs and fires, however if the insulation is faulty, the risk is still present.
You can determine if you have GFCI/AFCI outlets installed by looking for test and reset buttons on the receptacle. Use these buttons to test to see if the receptacle is working properly. It is recommended to install either the GFCI or AFCI receptacles at the start of each circuit. Doing this will protect all proceeding outlets. All houses built in the USA after 2014, have these outlets in places such as the bathroom, kitchen, garage, unfinished basement and outside. If you live in a house built prior to 2014, you will need to possibly update the outlets in various rooms. Please refer to your electrician, such as Artisan Electric, for requirements for residential outlets. Hiring an electrician will help make sure the work is done both safely and legally.