Does your home have the required number and location of arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) outlets throughout?  Chances are, if your home was built more than ten years ago, you may not be in compliance with the current National Electric Code (NEC).  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the NEC sets the foundation for electrical safety in residential, commercial, and industrial occupancies. AFCI outlets are designed to protect against fires caused by electrical arc faults.  From 2014 to 2016, an estimated 1,800 fatal fires in residential buildings were reported to U.S. fire departments each year, causing an estimated 2,700 deaths, 600 injuries and $173 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

AFCI Outlets Required in Most Living Areas

The NEC requirements for AFCI outlets have become more stringent with each passing Code cycle; while these devices were previously only required to protect the bedroom, the most recent NEC now requires the technology to be installed in additional areas of the home, including dining rooms, living rooms, kitchens and laundry rooms, and similar rooms and areas. According to Top Flight Home Inspections, many of the homes inspected on today’s market are not up to the current NEC.

AFCI receptacles contain electronic components to monitor a circuit for the presence of dangerous arcing conditions. Based upon an established threshold in the sine wave, the AFCI can be triggered to quickly react and de-power a circuit if dangerous arcing is detected.  While functioning smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and emergency safety ladders increase a family’s chances of escaping injury from an electrical fire, AFCI outlets can prevent fires from occurring in the first place.  Additionally, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that AFCI outlets could prevent more than 50% of electrical fires, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lists the technology as a key device in preventing burns and fire-related injuries.

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