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06/01/09 - AC Electric, LLC

Electrical circuit-interrupters  
  
 AFCI
 
 GFCI

Protective devices capable of responding to overloads and short circuit, such as circuit breakers, have been available for a number of years. Newer technologies now provide enhanced protection from arcing or ground-faults, which may prevent fires or shock.

AFCIs (arc-fault circuit-interrupters)
When an electrical switch is opened or closed, an arc, or discharge of electricity across a circuit, occurs. Unintentional arcs can occur at loose connections or where wires or cords have been damaged. Such arcs can lead to high temperatures and sparking, possibly igniting combustibles. AFCIs (arc-fault circuit-interrupters) protect against fire by continuously monitoring the electrical current in a circuit and shutting off the circuit when unintended arcing occurs. These devices are designed to discriminate between unintended arcing and the type of arcing that occurs when a switch is operated.

GFCIs (ground-fault circuit-interrupters)
A ground-fault is an unintentional electrical path between a source of electrical current and a grounded surface. Electrical shock can occur if a person comes into contact with an energized part. GFCIs (ground-fault circuit-interrupters) can greatly reduce the risk of shock by immediately shutting off an electrical circuit when that circuit represents a shock hazard (i.e., a person comes in contact with a faulty appliance together with a grounded surface). GFCIs can be installed in a circuit breaker panelboard or directly in a receptacle outlet.

Facts and figuresAFCI installation is required by the National Electrical Code® (NEC) in bedrooms of new residential construction (effective as of January 1, 2002). Bedrooms were selected as the first area in which to implement this requirement because of a history of fires there. GFCI installation is required by the NEC for receptacles in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor areas, basements and garages in new residential construction because of a history of shock hazards in these areas.

What are Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)?
The 2008 National Electrical Code® (NEC®) requirement for AFCI protection considerably expands this fire prevention technology to the majority of circuits installed in new and renovated homes. The type of AFCI currently available commercially is a next-generation circuit breaker that not only provides the conventional safety functions, but its advanced design also rapidly detects potentially dangerous arcs and disconnects power in the circuit before a fire can start. Fire safety officials throughout the U.S. endorse AFCIs as a significant step forward in electrical fire safety.

Why should they be installed in homes?
AFCIs will save lives and make homes safer. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, each year home electrical problems cause about 70,000 fires, resulting in 485 deaths and $868 million in property loss.

Why mandate AFCIs for newer homes when statistics show the majority of problems have occurred in older homes?
Fire safety officials recommend the use of AFCIs in all dwellings. While it is true that fire statistics in many cases are derived from older dwellings, damage to appliance cords or to wires hidden in a wall can occur regardless of the home’s age. In addition, incorrectly performed electrical installations can occur in both new and old homes. As technology evolves and the NEC is revised, the enhanced level of safety is typically required only in new construction that is subject to the latest adopted edition. Homes wired per the 2008 NEC will have the majority of their circuits protect by AFCIs for the life of the electrical system.

How do you know AFCIs will prevent fires and save lives?
Since 1999, AFCIs have been thoroughly field-tested. Underwriters Laboratories, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and many other experts have found AFCIs to be reliable and effective. By eliminating a significant source of electrically related fires, future statistics will demonstrate a reduction in fires of electrical origin.

Are AFCIs expensive?
The cost of the enhanced protection is directly related to the size of the dwelling and the number of circuits installed. Current retail prices of AFCI-type circuit breakers at several national building supply chains are in the range of $35 to $40 per unit. Even for larger homes with more circuits, the cost increase is insignificant compared to the total cost of the home, particularly when the increased level of safety is factored.

Do AFCIs interfere with smoke alarms and appliances, and trip unnecessarily?
AFCIs do not interfere with power supply reliability. These state-of-the-art devices identify problems that current circuit breakers are not designed to protect against, which can result in what appears to be an unexplained circuit breaker trip. By actually identifying these problems, residents are safer.

What is the NEC?
The NEC is the National Electrical Code. The NEC’s mission is to provide practical safeguards from the hazards that arise from using electricity. It is the most widely adopted safety code in the United States and the world, and it is the benchmark for safe electrical installations. The NEC is an evolving document, developed through an open consensus process. A new edition is issued every three years

 

05/19/09 - AC Electric, LLC

Ignoring your home's electrical system can be a costly mistake

Our lives literally depend on the safe use of electricity in our homes, and often safety hazards can go unnoticed or unseen. Even what homeowners might think of as a "minor" problem can lead to a devastating fire. In fact, electricity is a leading cause of home fires in the U.S.

Each year fires that start in electrical systems or lighting equipmentdamage more than 24, 000 homes kill 320 people injure 830 more

In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 50 people die every year from accidental electrocutions involving residential wiring, panel boards, circuit breakers, and outlets. Another 40 electrocutions each year involve household appliances that are connected to the wiring of homes.

By making sure you have a thorough electrical inspection completed by a qualified electrician before buying, selling, or remodeling a home, you can help ensure your home's electrical system operates at the highest level of safety possible.

04/27/09 - AC Electric, LLC


HOW GROUND PROTECTION WORKS


A "GFCI" is a ground fault circuit interrupter. A ground fault circuit interrupter is an inexpensive electrical device that, if installed in household branch circuits, could prevent over two-thirds of the approximately 300 electrocutions still occurring each year in and around the home. Installation of the device could also prevent thousands of burn and electric shock injuries each year.

The GFCI is designed to protect people from severe or fatal electric shocks. Because a GFCI detects ground faults, it can also prevent some electrical fires and reduce the severity of others by interrupting the flow of electric current.

The Problem

Have you ever experienced an electric shock? If you did, the shock probably happened because your hand or some other part of your body contacted a source of electrical current and your body provided a path for the electrical current to go to the ground, so that you received a shock.

An unintentional electric path between a source of current and a grounded surface is referred to as a "ground-fault." Ground faults occur when current is leaking somewhere, in effect, electricity is escaping to the ground. How it leaks is very important. If your body provides a path to the ground for this leakage, you could electrocuted.

Some examples of accidents that underscore this hazard include the following:

 *  Two children, ages five and six, were electrocuted in Texas when a plugged-in hair dryer fell into the tub in which they were bathing.
*A three-year-old Kansas girl was electrocuted when she touched a faulty countertop.

These two electrocutions occurred because the electrical current escaping from the appliance traveled through the victim to ground (in these cases, the grounded plumbing fixtures). Had a GFCI been installed, these deaths would probably have been prevented because a GFCI would have sensed the current flowing to ground and would have switched off the power before the electrocution occurred.

How the GFCI Works

In the home's wiring system, the GFCI constantly monitors electricity flowing in a circuit, to sense any loss of current. If the current flowing through the circuit differs by a small amount from that returning, the GFCI quickly switches off power to that circuit. The GFCI interrupts power faster than a blink of an eye to prevent a lethal dose of electricity. You may receive a painful shock, but you should not be electrocuted or receive a serious shock injury.

Here's how it may work in your house. Suppose a bare wire inside an appliance touches the metal case. The case is then charged with electricity. If you touch the appliance with one hand while the other hand is touching a grounded metal object, like a water faucet, you will receive a shock. If the appliance is plugged into an outlet protected by a GFCI, the power will be shut off before a fatal shock would occur.

Availability of GFCIs

Three common types of ground fault circuit interrupters are available for home use:

*   Receptacle Type: This type of GFCI is used in place of the standard duplex receptacle found throughout the house It fits into the standard outlet box and protects you against "ground faults" whenever an electrical product is plugged into the outlet. Most receptacle-type GFCls can be installed so that they also protect other electrical outlets further "down stream" in the branch circuit.
*Circuit Breaker Type: In homes equipped with circuit breakers rather than fuses, a circuit breaker GFCI may be installed in a panel box to give protection to selected circuits The circuit breaker GFCI serves a dual purpose - not only will it shut off electricity in the event of a "ground-fault," but it will also trip when a short circuit or an overload occurs Protection covers the wiring and each outlet, lighting fixture, heater, etc. served by the branch circuit protected by the GFCI in the panel box.
*Portable Type: Where permanent GFCls are not practical, portable GFCls may be used One type contains the GFCI circuitry in a plastic enclosure with plug blades in the back and receptacle slots in the f rant. It can be plugged into a receptacle, then, the electrical product is plugged into the GFCI. Another type of portable GFCI is an extension cord combined with a GFCI. It adds flexibility in using receptacles that are not protected by GFCls.

Where GFCIs Should Be Considered

In homes built to comply with the National Electrical Code (the Code), GFCI protection is required for most outdoor receptacles (since 1973), bathroom receptacle circuits (since 1975), garage wall outlets (since 1978), kitchen receptacles (since 1987), and all receptacles in crawl spaces and unfinished basements (since 1990).

Owners of homes that do not have GFCls installed in all those critical areas specified in the latest version of the Code should consider having them installed. For broad protection, GFCI circuit breakers may be added in many panels of older homes to replace ordinary circuit breaker. For homes protected by fuses, you are limited to receptacle or portable-type GFCIs and these may be installed in areas of greatest exposure, such as the bathroom, kitchen, basement, garage, and outdoor circuits.

A GFCI should be used whenever operating electrically powered garden equipment (mower, hedge trimmer, edger, etc.). Consumers can obtain similar protection by using GFCIs with electric tools (drills, saws, sanders, etc.) for do-it-yourself work in and around the house.

Installing GFCIs

Circuit breaker and receptacle-type GFCIs may be installed in your home by a qualified electrician. Receptacle-type GFCIs may be installed by knowledgeable consumers familiar with electrical wiring practices who also follow the instructions accompanying the device. When in doubt about the proper procedure, contact a qualified electrician. Do not attempt to install it yourself.

The portable GFCI requires no special knowledge or equipment to install.

Testing the GFCIs

All GFCIs should be tested once a month to make sure they are working properly and are protecting you from fatal shock. GFCIs should be tested after installation to make sure they are working properly and protecting the circuit.

To test the receptacle GFCI, first plug a night light or lamp into the outlet. The light should be on Then, press the "TEST" button on the GFCI. The GFCI's "RESET" button should pop out, and the light should go out.

If the "RESET" button pops out but the light does not go out, the GFCI has been improperly wired. Contact an electrician to correct the wiring errors.

If the "RESET" button does not pop out, the GFCI is defective and should be replaced.

If the GFCI is functioning properly, and the lamp goes out, press the "RESET" button to restore power to the outlet.


04/09/09 - AC Electric, LLC  

ELECTRICAL FIRE SAFETY 

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 20,900 reported home structure fires involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment in 2005.  These fires resulted in 500 civilian deaths, 1,100 civilian fire injuries, and $862 million in direct property damage. 

       
     NFPA Safety Tips


1.  Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices.
2.Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
3.In homes with small children, unused wall sockets and extension-cord receptacles should have plastic safety covers.


     Facts & Figures

*Lamps, light fixtures and light bulbs accounted for the largest share of 2002-2005 home structure fires involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment. 
*Cords and plugs accounted for the largest share of the 2002-2005 home structure fire civilian deaths involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment.
*   Some type of electrical failure or malfunction was cited as factor contributing to ignition for 73% of electrical distribution or lighting equipment home structure fires.

ELECTRICAL FIRE SAFETY

In 2006, an estimated 52,500 home structure fires reported to the U.S. fire departments involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition.  These fires resulted in 340 civilian deaths, 1,447 million in direct property damage.

*  Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices.
*Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
*In homes with small children, unused wall sockets and extension-cord receptacles should have plastic safety covers.
*Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.
*Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
*Avoid overloading outlets.  Plug only one high-wattage appliance into a receptacle outlet.
*If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.
*When possible, avoid the use of “cube taps” and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.
*Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp’s recommended wattage.


04/02/09 - AC Electric, LLC Tax Credits for High Efficiency Equipment - this is great information for homeowners. I have a network of people I trust so if you are interested in taking advantage of the this Tax Credit please call:
Kelly - Triad HVAC phone 303-788-1316 cell 303-229-8500
Greg - High Mountain Lending (he can get you the financing and information you need to take advantage of great Tax Credit) phone 303-919-0916

www.acca.org

Source:
www.acca.org

                

03/26/09 - AC Electric, LLC  - SAFETY TIP. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/16.html
Extension Cords Fact Sheet - very interesting - you should take the time to read this

Extension Cords Fact Sheet

Source: www.cpsc.gov

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSO) estimates that each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. About half the injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords...