Electrical Fires - Arc Fault Protection

Electrical systems - boring, right? Maybe not.

Some 45 to 55% of house fires every year can be attributed to an electrical problem. While this article is not meant to be exhaustive or technical, I would really like to impress upon homeowners the importance of electrical safety.


Credit: a 2012 Underwriters Lab study of modern wiring - https://goo.gl/p3GJgj Provided in fairness to UL and for those with insomnia.
Since 1999, a new type of "breaker" has been reqired in homes. At first it was required for bedrooms only, and then since 2014 they have been required in most other areas of a home on new construction. If you live in a house that was permitted and built since then, you are likely to have the latest fire protection available. All you have to do now is test the breakers per the manufacturer's instructions. I suggest you look at them, determine the maker, look up the manuals and perform the test (push the button) as often as instructed.
What if you have an older house? It may be time to upgrade your panel. New type breakers are available for some but not all older electrical panels, I suggest you have an electrican evaluate your particular situation.
What I have been finding on the vast majority of recently remodeled homes is new electrical panel(s) with only the older type circuit breaker, no current fire protection. In my opinion, there is no morally defensible excuse for this. Apparently, the people responsible feel the small savings, a few hundred dollars at most, outweighs the potential savings of life and property. These installations are also being signed off by the city electrical inspector. The houses are being certified for occupancy. I have questioned the building and safety departments responsible for hundreds of thousands of homes and have not recieved a satisfactory answer.

It is up to us, the private inspector and the competent homeowner to make a home safer.

Due to spammers, comments will not be published. Any questions or comments, please direct them to me, gary at dewittinspections dt cm