Arc-fault circuit-interrupter (AFCI) breakers are an easy-to-install safety
feature that can help protect your home from electrical fire. Electrical
shorts and ground faults cause arcs, which produce sudden, high temperatures
that can catch wood, insulation and other combustible materials in the
vicinity of the wires on fire. Arcs generally occur due to worn or damaged
electrical cords and wiring. AFCIs prevent fires by sensing when an electrical
arc is about to occur and instantly disconnecting the damaged circuit before
the arc builds enough heat to catch fire.
circuit breakers don’t always trip in these instances because standard
breakers are designed to respond to a sustained amount of heat, not a quick
The 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC)
requires an AFCI breaker in new construction for any circuit that has an
outlet or fixture in a family room, dining room, living room, parlor, library,
den, bedroom, sunroom, recreation room, closet, hallway or other living area.
AFCI breakers will not interfere with the operation of ground fault circuit
interrupter (GFCI) outlets, so it’s safe to install AFCIs on circuits that
include GFCI outlets.
This project guide will show
you step-by-step how to replace a standard circuit breaker with an AFCI
breaker. Before beginning your project, always consult the manufacturer’s
instructions that come with your breaker.
check with local building authorities before working on a household electrical
project to ensure your project meets local electrical code standards. In
addition, you may need to obtain a permit and have your work inspected by a