You may not have heard of arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI), but you have probably heard of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).  Both of them are electrical safety devices, but there is a clear difference between them. 

  • AFCIs are designed to protect homes from fires that can occur when corroded, damaged or deteriorated wiring is present.
  • GFCIs are designed to protect people from electrical shock. 
  • A traditional circuit breaker (non-GFCI and non-AFGI) will trip as a response to an overload in a circuit, and don’t have the added protection of either type.

AFCIs became a requirement for use in bedrooms based on the 1999 National Electrical Code which was effective in 2002.   The AFCI will shut off the electricity if an arc fault occurs, will trip or short circuit when an overload occurs, and will reduce the chance of a fire, but cannot prevent them entirely.  If your home was built prior to 2002, it might not contain this extra protection against the arcing faults that can occur in aging wiring systems.  Home owners and tenants may wish to add AFCI protection for both new and existing homes.

GFCI receptacles became a requirement in houses starting in 1971.  They work by interrupting household circuits when there is a difference between the currents in the hot and neutral wires.   That could even mean that someone has come in contact with the hot wire and is experiencing a shock.  When a circuit is functioning normally, all the return current from the appliance goes back through the neutral wire.   A typical circuit breaker is designed to cut off at either 15 or 20 amperes. However, someone can be electrocuted with as little as one-tenth of an amp.  A circuit breaker with a GFCI will detect a few thousands of an amp (milliampere) and trip the breaker to remove the shock hazard.

We take the safety of you and your family very seriously.  If your home was built before 2002, let our professionals check your electrical circuits, then install arc fault circuit interrupters and/or ground fault circuit interrupters to help prevent electrical hazards in your home or business today.  Get the protection you and your family deserve by calling Frye Electric today at 317-271-1099, or use or on-line contact page.   You’ll rest better and be glad you did!

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