The following article was written by Chris Linden, owner of CHECKTECH Inspections in Austin, Texas. Chris is an Austin home inspector who stays current on recent changes to TREC policies that affect his clients and his practice. Below, Chris discusses one of these new TREC changes in particular and how it affects Austin homeowners:
Lack of AFCI is Now Considered a Deficiency on All Homes
The Texas Real Estate Commission’s new Standards of Practice for Inspectors require us to report the lack of Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) protection as a deficiency, regardless of the age of a home. AFCI protection is required in all family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreations rooms, closets, hallways, and similar rooms or areas.
AFCI vs GFCI
AFCIs differ from ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which are installed in most electrical items. While a GFCI protects people from shock if parts of an electric appliance or tool become energized due to a ground fault, AFCIs are newly-developed electrical devices designed to protect against fires caused by arcing faults in the home’s electrical wiring. Arcing faults can be created by damaged, deteriorated, or worn electrical plugs, cords, and/or branch circuit conductors.
Where Are AFCI Breakers Located?
AFCI protection devices are not found in wall receptacles, but are integrated into your house’s electrical service panel in the form of special circuit breakers. Conventional circuit breakers respond to overloads and short circuits, but they do not protect against arcing conditions that produce erratic current. Like circuit breakers, AFCIs protect against short circuits and overloads, but additionally protect against arcs by electronically identifying the unique current and voltage characteristics of an arc fault and de-energize the circuit when arc faults occur. As with the GFCI outlets, the AFCI breakers in the electric panel also should be tested monthly to ensure that they are working properly.
How Do I Add AFCI Protection?
A house can easily be upgraded to have AFCI protection. A qualified, licensed electrician can replace conventional circuit breakers with AFCI circuit breakers. Older homes with aging and deteriorating wiring systems can especially benefit from the added protection of AFCIs.
For additional information on AFCI protection, or if you are in need of an Austin home inspection, please consider Chris Linden at CHECKTECH Inspections.