Arc Fault Breaker: A Life-Saving Electrical Device

by Mario Traina and Amber Traina, Owners, Allied Electric

Many homeowners are familiar with standard breakers and what they do. But do you know what an arc fault circuit interrupter is and that they can protect your home and family from the ravaging effects of electrical fires?

Unfortunately, electrical fires are somewhat common throughout the United States. The U.S. Fire Administration reported that residential electrical fires caused nearly 50,000 fires between 2017 and 2019, resulting in hundreds of deaths and more than $1 billion in property loss.

Having arc fault breakers in the home can prevent that. An arc fault breaker (or as we like to call them, fire guard breakers), does everything a conventional breaker does. But it goes a giant step further by detecting arcing conditions (aka sparks), caused by things like improper electrical installations, faulty appliance cords or mis-wired devices.

According to, these sparks or arcing conditions are incredibly dangerous because a conventional breaker was not designed to detect them. An arcing condition can exceed temperatures of over 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a fire. Arc fault breakers benefit new and old homes alike.

These breakers are so effective at preventing fires that the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 50% of electrical fires that yearly occur can be prevented by them.

Because of their extreme efficacy and safety attributes, the National Electrical Code issued arc fault breaker requirements in 1999. The current 2022 code states that arc fault breakers must be installed in all livable areas of a residential home. For example: in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, sunrooms, kitchens and laundry areas.

Not every county enforces it, which is why not all homes in the Prescott area have them in all the areas of the home. But they are required and highly suggested at the national level, and it’s easy to see why.

Just as smoke detectors are critical to have in your home as a defense against house fires, so too are arc fault breakers. You may never be able to see what’s going on in the wiring behind your walls but installing every fire prevention tool available to you can increase your peace of mind and act as a form of insurance.

You can think of these breakers like having a little firefighter in your breaker panel.

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