Is My Home Safe
Residential electrical fires occur around 70,000 times a year. A significant portion of these fires can be attributed to arc faults. An arc fault is the flow of electricity over an unintended path. These arcs can exceed temperatures of 10,000° F and easily ignite combustible materials in the home. AFCIs are devices that protect your home by detecting dangerous arcs and safely de-energizing the circuit. Arc faults arise from a number of situations, including: • Damaged wires
• Receptacle leakage
• Neutral leads pinched to grounded metal box
• Worn electrical insulation
• Loose electrical connections
• Shorted wires
• Wires or cords in contact with vibrating metal
• Overheated or stressed electrical cords and wires
• Misapplied/damaged appliances
A device intended to be installed at the origin of a branch circuit or feeder, such as at a panel board. The branch/feeder AFCI provides for detection of arcing faults that can occur line-to-line, line-to-neutral and line-to-ground. To be able to handle shared neutral circuits (a common application in older homes), a two-pole AFCI can be used. This will accommodate the three-wire circuit arrangement used in shared neutral applications.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Shall be Install In any wet or damp location
Including bathrooms,kitchen,basement or outdoors any where the N.E.C. ALLOWES
What is a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) anyway?
A “ground-fault” is an unintentional flow of electricity between a source of electrical current and a grounded surface. Without protection, electrical shock can occur if a person comes into contact with an energized part. For example, if a person is holding a damaged electrical cord from a hair dryer and touches a plumbing fixture, they could be electrocuted. They would certainly get a painful shock.
A GFCI receptacle constantly monitors an electrical circuit. If it detects even a slight flow of electricity to a grounded item, it immediately shuts off the flow of electricity. This protects people from electrocution. It is particularly important to protect people where they could come in contact with exposed grounded items such as plumbing fixtures.
TO KEEP YOUR HOME SAFE
Install a smoke detector in every bedroom of your home and in the hall that leads to one or two bedrooms, and make sure there is at least one on each floor of your home, even in your basement. You should usually avoid putting a smoke detector in an unheated attic and garage.Interconnect all of your smoke detectors, a feature on most newer hard-wired smoke detectors and wireless smoke detectors. Interconnected smoke detectors will all sound an alarm when any one of them detects smoke or a fire.Choose a hard-wired smoke detector that has a battery backup, so that it will work even if the power goes out. Hard-wired smoke detectors are reported to be more reliable in fires than those that are powered by batteries alone.Get a smoke detector that has strobe lights that flash and/or vibrates if there is someone with hearing
If you have any of these panels in your home call and licensed electrical contractor Problems Outdated Electrical Panels Present
Older homes with outdated electrical panels can’t handle the electrical needs of today’s current society. In the past, 60-amp service was considered more than enough. Today, people’s power requirements are much greater.
Among a variety of older panels, there are two distinct types that electricians will recommend upgrading the most. They offer unique problems for homes. These two types of panels are fuse boxes and split-bus panels.
1. Fuse boxes were the precursor to the panel box. If an over current or short circuit occurred, a fuse would pop and have to be replaced. This is where problems regularly occur. When replacing the blown fuse, especially if it routinely happened, people would:
- For example, replace a 15-amp fuse with a 20- or 30-amp fuse. That creates a massive fire hazard; the wires are not able to handle that much electricity and heat!
- Insert a coin, usually a penny, where the blown fuse once was. That possibly presents an even larger fire hazard! That fuse can never pop, no matter how much electricity surges through it. It leaves the home open to the potential for a fire risk.
2. Split-bus panels present unique challenges as well. Namely, these panels do not have a main breaker; instead, they have a smaller breaker feeding the bottom half of the panel. These smaller breakers have been known to melt or burn due to the excessive demand placed on them. Today, split-buss panels probably would not be UL listed and would not be considered a safe option.
Some Panels May Leave Homes and Homeowners at Risk
1. Zinsco Panels
However, at one time, they were extremely popular and installed in many regions throughout North America. As time has passed, electricians and home inspectors have discovered that certain Zinsco panels often can fail to operate properly and may leave homes and homeowners at risk to both fire and electrical shock. These panels can work fine for years, but as homes have increased energy demands, these panels may overheat and portions of it melt.
In this situation, if a breaker melts to the bus bar of the panel and can no longer adequately trip in case of an over current or short circuit, an extreme amount of power from the outside electrical supply surges into a home’s panel and circuits. Once that happens, it cannot be stopped or shut off manually. Electricity will burn until it runs out of fuel or the wires melt. The panel could overheat and catch fire, causing serious harm to a home and its occupants.
2. Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE)
was one of the most common manufacturers of circuit breaker panels in North America from the 1950s to the 1980s. Millions of their panels were installed in homes across the country. Yet, as the years passed, electricians and home inspectors often found Federal Pacific Electric panels failed to provide proper protection to homeowners and their families. Experts now say that FPE panels can appear to work fine for years, but after one overcurrent or short circuit, they can overheat and become fire hazards.
When a breaker fails to trip, an extreme amount of power from the outside electrical supply surges into a home’s panel and circuits. Once that happens, it cannot be stopped or shut off manually. Electricity will burn until it runs out of fuel or the wires melt. The panel could overheat and catch fire, causing serious harm to a home and its occupants. Many Federal Pacific Electric panels and breakers can operate properly for years. But if and when they do malfunction, a disaster could occur.
Knob and Tube Wires
Many houses constructed pre 1950's have what is called knob and tube wiring. One can determine if you have this type of wiring in your home, by closely looking at basement joists or attic rafters. To determine if your home is wired " knob and tube", look for ceramic knobs or tubes in which the wire gets attached to, or passes through, joists or studs. If the knob and tube wiring is not easily visible, you can usually tell by looking at your electrical outlets and switches.
. You may only have two prong outlets to plug into. Basically, no ground at each outlet or fixture outlet means knob and tube wiring is present, likewise if you have older pushbutton switches, this is also a good sign you may have knob and tube Nowadays, Home owners with knob and tube wiring may find it difficult or impossible to obtain insurance on their home because most insurance companies are not likely to insure a house they perceive as high risk. Insurance companies usually require a certificate of inspection and compliance from a licensed electrician, that all knob and tube has been removed and replaced with modern 3 wire grounded circuits before it will insure a home that previously had knob and tube wiring. After the electrician rewires your home, they give you a satisfactory assessment of your home, and the insurance company will consider giving an insurance policy for your house. B. Overview of Knob-and-Tube Wiring Knob-and-Tube wiring was the predominant wiring system through the 1920 s and 1930 s; some installations of knob-and-tube wiring continued in houses up until 1950. There are several distinguishing characteristics of knob-and-tube wiring in comparison to current wiring methods