Electricity is an amazing force, one that can cause devastating effects when improperly handled. The Ontario Electrical Safety Code explains the safest ways to handle this force, which includes the newest information regarding arc fault breakers. Here’s what you should know.
What is an Arc Fault?
In the simplest terms, an arc fault is when the electrical current jumps from the wire and zaps another material, such as the wood frame. When conditions are ideal, this can cause the material to catch fire, often leading to monumental loss of property and even life.
How Does an Arc Fault Happen?
Most often, arc faults happen when the wire or outlets become damaged, such as when a nail punctures the wire during home improvement projects. Older wiring is also susceptible to arcing.
Preventing an Arc Fault
The best way to prevent this problem is to have arc fault breakers installed as required by the new code requirements. The breakers isolate the problem from the rest of the circuit, and may prevent a fire or shock hazard.
Why are Arc Fault Breakers Important?
A single arc may not pose a problem, however, not all arcs are visible because most wiring is hidden behind the walls. This location alone increases the risks of the arc sparking a fire in the home’s frame or insulation. This type of fire tends to grow rapidly which can result in devastating loss of life or property.
The Two Types of Arc Fault Breakers
Breakers are available in two main types: Outlet Branch-Circuit Type and Combination-Type. Each has its own requirements and recommended usages. Both provide protection from arc faults, but the Outlet branch-circuit type has a built-in mechanical device that isolates the arc to reduce fire risks.
How to Ensure Compliance
To ensure compliance, you need to make sure your breakers are up to the current code. The in’s and out’s of electrical code requirements can be complex and confusing, making it a difficult project for the do-it-yourselfer. It’s best to have a professional, with experience in electrical safety, come to inspect your home for compliance. If there is a problem, the experts will be able to offer suggestions and switch older breakers for the new, code compliant types.