Facts about Electrical Circuit Interrupters

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Electrical circuit interrupters are devices designed to prevent electrical fires and shocks. Since these hazards are quite common, especially in older homes, it has become mandatory to install electrical circuit interrupters. Here are some essential facts about these protective devices:

  • There are 2 types of electrical circuit interrupters installed in homes: AFCIs (arc-fault circuit interrupters) and GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters).
  • AFCIs prevent fires in electrical switches from occurring by shutting off the circuit when an unintentional arc (discharge of electricity) occurs within the circuit.
  • GFCIs greatly reduce the risk of electrical shock by shutting off electricity in a circuit when a person comes in contact with both a faulty appliance and a grounded surface.
  • Both AFCIs and GFCIs can be installed as a receptacle outlet or as a circuit breaker in a panel board.
  • The 2014 National Electrical Code requires both AFCI and GFCI protection for 15 and 20 amp circuits in residential constructions.
  • AFCIs should be installed in all areas of a newly constructed home, excluding outside areas, garages and bathrooms.
  • GFCIs should be installed in bathrooms within 6’ of sinks, bathtubs and shower stalls, on kitchen countertops, in laundry areas, unfinished basements, crawl spaces, garages, boathouses and outdoor areas.
  • Appliances that have a history of being a shock hazard, such as drinking fountains, vending machines, dishwashers and boat hoists, should also have GFCI protection.
  • A licensed technician should install all AFCIs and GFCIs, no matter if they’re circuit-type or breaker-type.
  • AFCIs and GFCIs should be tested once a month to ensure they are working correctly.

Unfortunately, AFCIs do not provide complete protection from electrical fires in your home. Take a look at this article to learn the major causes of home electrical fires and how to avoid them. For professional fire, water and mold restoration services, contact your local PuroClean office.

Last edited on 28th of June 2022