Boggs Inspection Service Talks New AFCI Requirements for 2014’s National Electrical Code



duane boggs - expert photoKeeping electrical wiring up to date is a critical part of home maintenance, but one that is easily overlooked as much of a home’s electrical systems are hidden in the walls.  The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates that approximately 13% of home fires are electrical in origin and about half have resulted from an electrical arc in the home’s wiring.

Dwayne Boggs, a South Sound home inspector with over 10 years of experience, shares that as of January 1, 2014, new updates to the National Electrical Code (NEC) will require AFCI’s (Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupters) in almost all new wiring installations and upgrades.

AFCI’s are designed to detect an electrical arc inside the wall and de-energize the circuit if it sees the fault occurring repeatedly.  Arc faults are different from other electrical surges, with a low current that doesn’t trip the breaker, resulting in repeated arcs that melt wire insulation and can cause fire.

“Installation of AFCI’s is especially important in older homes,” shares Boggs.  “As wiring ages, it’s more likely to have an arc.”

AFCI’s are not new.  They were first required in 1999 but were limited only to the wall outlets in bedrooms.  NEC expanded in 2002 to include lights and switches in bedrooms.  In 2008 the NEC expanded once again, requiring AFCIs in most rooms except the kitchen, bathroom, garage, laundry and exterior where GFCI’s (Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters) were more common.

The 2014 requirements extend into the kitchen and laundry and more importantly, require all AFCI outlets or circuit breakers to be “readily accessible.” This means that outlets hidden behind the refrigerator are no longer acceptable.

Boggs shares that homeowners should be aware of the new requirements as they will impact any modification in preparation for sale or remodel.  “Any changes to branch circuit wiring will be subject to the new rules, even if you are simply adding one outlet or moving a can-light,” he explains.

Despite the cost of upgrade, having AFCI’s in your home is like having an electrical inspector on-site at all times.  “AFCI’s detect weird electrical glitches that are undetectable by regular breakers and shut off that circuit,” shares Boggs.  The peace of mind that comes with safe wiring is priceless.

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