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So you’re getting ready to add an addition to your Chicagoland home. Maybe you’re simply planning to upgrade your electrical service panel. Your Chicagoland electrical contractor coming out to give you quotes is all telling you that you should replace your existing circuit breakers with AFCI breakers – but what are they?

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter Breakers

Arc-fault circuit interrupter breakers (AFCI), according to the National Electric Code (NEC), must now be included in all new constructions. These new breakers are separate from the ground fault interrupter (GFI) breakers already installed in your Chicagoland home. The GFI breakers protect you from electrical shocks while the these breakers are designed to protect your home from fire hazards.

How do AFCI Breakers Work?

The GFI breakers in your Chicagoland home protect you from the electrical current created when hot wires touch ground wires. They do so by tripping the circuit breaker and shutting off your power.

The problem is that the hot wire may not make consistent contact with the ground or neutral wires. This can happen if your insulation is going bad or if your wires have become loose or corroded. When this occurs, the intermittent contact causes an arc of heat to continuously build, creating a possible fire hazard. The new breakers can detect the arc and trip the breaker to prevent a fire from starting.

Are AFCI Breakers Mandatory?

The NEC states that these breakers should be included in all new constructions but not every town or city has made them mandatory. Your electrician in Chicagoland may recommend them anyway and they are something you should seriously consider, despite their higher cost ($55 for the new type vs. $10 for traditional).

Studies show that more than 40,000 fires per year are caused by home wiring problems. These fires claim the lives of hundreds and injure thousands more. This breaker is designed to protect your Chicagoland home from this type of hazard. Ask your independent electrical contractor in Chicagoland for more information about upgrading your home with these breakers. This is one upgrade worth making.


If you are looking for a Chicagolandland electrician then please call (847) 564-4130 for Northbrook or (847) 697-4130 for Elgin or complete our online request form.

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