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Question: On a new home sale, I overheard the builder representative talk to the buyer about something called an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter. What do these devices do and should they be installed in older homes also? ? Anna, Keller-Williams Agent in Phoenix

Problems in home electrical systems, like arcing and sparking, have been associated with more than 40,000 fires every year. That translates to over 350 lives lost and 1,400 personal injuries annually. This new electrical safety device called an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI), was recently developed and is expected to provide significant protection from fires resulting from these unsafe wiring conditions.

Ordinary household fuses and breakers do not respond to early arcing and sparking conditions. By the time a fuse or circuit breaker stops the flow of electricity in a circuit, the fire may already have begun. Several years ago, a Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) study identified arc fault detection as a promising new technology. Since then, the CPSC engineers have tested the new AFCI’s on the market and found them to be very effective.

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