Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters -
An AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker is designed to detect a wide range of electrical faults, and reduce the likelihood that the electrical system could be the ignition source of a fire. The current NEC (National Electrical Code) has determined that certain circuits in the home must be protected by AFCI overcurrent devices (circuit breakers), both in new construction and during phases of updating or remodeling your home.
Conventional breakers do not normally detect lower levels of hazardous arcing currents, that is, they are not designed to identify specific arcing conditions. For example, AFCI circuit breakers are manufactured to detect damage to branch wiring insulation (wire coating), which if missing, burnt, or damaged, can provide suitable conditions for dangerous arcing.
During a home inspection, Noble Home Inspections checks branch circuit wiring for damage, improper installation, and the presence of protection devices, such as AFCI circuit interrupters. In newer construction homes, AFCI breakers should already be installed, and if not, will be recommended to be updated by a licensed electrical contractor. In older homes, while still recommended, AFCI breakers are often times not installed at the service panel, and it is the decision of the homebuyer to have the overcurrent devices updated. Simply because an electrical system is dated, does not mean it no longer safely functions - this is an important distinction which should be discussed by the homebuyer and their home inspector. Furthermore, updating the electrical system is more than simply improving the overcurrent devices at the service panel - often times in older homes receptacles and branch circuit wiring must all be updated to work with the AFCI breakers.