PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY WITH FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
In the blink of an eye, a loose connection, frayed cord, or damaged appliance can turn a useful allies into a deadly adversary. Each year, home electrical problems result in an estimated 53,600 fires. These fires cause more than 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage. Additionally, hundreds of people in the U.S. are electrocuted at home. Many of these electrocutions and home electrical fires could be prevented with electrical safety devices called fault circuit interrupters.
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)
According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical arcing is the source of ignition in more than 30,000 fires each year. Arc faults occur when electricity escapes from home wiring, cords, or appliances via damage or improper installation.
Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are new safety devices that replace standard circuit breakers in your electrical service panel. AFCIs detect arc faults and quickly cut power to the circuit. They provide a higher level of protection than a standard circuit breaker by detecting the fault and tripping before the arc becomes a fire hazard.
TOP CAUSES OF ARC FAULTS INCLUDE
- Loose or improper connections, such as electrical wires to outlets or switches.
- Frayed appliance or extension cords.
- Pinched or pierced wire insulation, such as a wire inside a wall nipped by a nail or a chair leg sitting on an extension cord.
- Cracked wire insulation stemming from age, heat, corrosion, or bending stress.
- Overheated wires or cords.
- Damaged electrical appliances.
- Electrical wire insulation chewed by rodents.
GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
The ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault. Found mostly in areas where electrical products might come in contact with water (i.e. bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoors), a GFCI is designed to trip before a deadly electrical shock can occur.
GFCIs work by comparing the current flowing to your appliances to the current returning from your appliances. When the current flowing to differs from the amount returning by about five milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the current.
GFCIs constantly monitor electricity flowing in a circuit. They detect variations in current which would be too small to trip a traditional fuse or circuit breaker.
In the 25 years since GFCIs were introduced, home electrocutions in the United States have dropped 50 percent. If GFCIs were installed in older homes, experts estimate that 70 percent of the electrocutions that occur each year could be prevented.
TEST YOUR GFCIs
GFCIs are subject to wear and damage from surges during electrical storms. Industry studies suggest that as many as 10 percent of GFCIs in use may be damaged. Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends testing GFCIs monthly and after major electrical storms. To test your standard wall or receptacle GFCIs:
- Push the "Reset" button of the GFCI receptacle to prepare the unit for testing.
- Plug a light into the GFCI and turn it on. The light should now be ON.
- Push the "Test" button of the GFCI. The light should go OFF.
- Push the "Reset" button again. The light should again turn ON.
The light should go out when the test button is pushed. If the light doesn’t go out, the the GFCI is not working or has been installed incorrectly. If the "Reset" button pops out during the test but the light does not go out, the GFCI may have been improperly wired. In this case, the GFCI may have been damaged, and it won’t offer shock protection. Contact a qualified electrician to check the GFCI and correct the problem.
GFCI QUICK TIPS
- GFCIs should be used in any area where water may come in contact with electrical products.
- Put a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) between your electric power source and your electric product.
- GFCIs aren’t present in your home, consult a licensed electrician about adding this important protection, purchase plug-in units, or use a portable GFCI to provide individual receptacle or load protection.