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Arc-Fault Circuit Breakers

Everyday, millions of dollars and thousands of lives are lost to electrical fires. According to the latest statistics, there are about 115 fires daily that are believed to have been caused by faulty electrical wiring. The worst thing about these electrical fires is that it can strike any time and any place.

Electric Fires Explained

You might be wondering how electrical fires can still happen even if your home is equipped with a circuit breaker.

Upon investigation, it has been learned that most of these fires resulted from electrical shorts which produce arcs. These arcs are responsible for creating sparks and increasing temperature to 10,000 F. Obviously, such high temperature can melt plastic insulation and ignite wood, carpets and other combustible substances as long as they are in the vicinity of arcing wires.

In most instances, arcs are observed in electrical cords of appliances especially those which have been cracked or have become brittle. Other sources of these arcs are wires in the walls damaged by fasteners or nails. Hot spots for these arcs include loose connections in outlets and switches.

New Circuit Breakers

The old circuit breakers were only protecting the wires running through the walls, outlets and switches. They are tripped when shorts and significant increase in temperature are sensed. Unfortunately, these circuit breakers fail to react when arcs happen.

The discovery of these arcing wires has actually led to the manufacture of circuit breakers that can sense arc faults. Today, there are breakers that feature arc-fault circuit interrupters. Compared to the old circuit breakers, they are definitely smarter. These new circuit breakers contain logic devices and small filters that can easily sense arcs before it produce intense heat and sparks. As soon as it detects an arcing condition, the breaker is tripped.

Because of their ability to sense arcs, the new circuit breakers have become quite popular. In fact, there are some states like Vermont that have required these breakers to be used in all circuits feeding residential communities.

If you want to replace your old circuit breakers, you can buy the new ones anywhere in the United States. Prices vary depending on manufacturer and range from $25 to $50. Of course, they should be installed by a professional electrician.

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