What is an Arc Fault?
Most people are familiar with the term arcing. Arcing may be intended, such as with an arc welder or unintended, such as when a tree falls on a power line during a storm creating a current discharge between conductors or to ground.
An arc fault is an unintended arc created by current flowing through an unplanned path. Arcing creates high intensity heating at the point of the arc resulting in burning particles that may easily ignite surrounding material, such as wood framing or insulation. The temperatures of these arcs can exceed 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why do we really need Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)?
Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and escape ladders are all examples of emergency equipment used in homes to take action when a fire occurs. An AFCI is a product that is designed to detect a wide range of arcing electrical faults to help reduce the electrical system from being an ignition source of a fire. Conventional overcurrent protective devices do not detect low level hazardous arcing currents that have the potential to initiate electrical fires. It is well known that electrical fires do exist and take many lives and damage or destroy significant amounts of property. Electrical fires can be a silent killer occurring in areas of the home that are hidden from view and early detection. The objective is to protect the circuit in a manner that will reduce its chances of being a source of an electrical fire.
Where are they required to be installed by the National Electrical Code?
The 2005 National Electrical Code states that AFCIs must be placed on bedroom power and lighting circuits. The 2008 NEC may expand this requirement to other areas in the home. As with all property protection and life saving devices, the ultimate use, beyond the Code, rests with the homeowner. Whether new construction or retrofit, NEMA supports that you utilize the maximum electrical protection level available to reduce the chance of an electrical fire.
So yes, Buckeye Home Inspections does recommend that your home be equipped with AFCI breakers in your electric panel. Here is a link for more details. http://www.handymanwire.com/articles/AFCI.html