AFCIs - At my wit's end

So I work in MD, DC, and VA and am having a hard time with AFCI requirements/code.

I’ve discovered that VA requires them only in bedrooms, per the 2008 NEC. I believe DC and MD have adopted the 2011 NEC, essentially requiring them everywhere but garages, bathrooms, and kitchens.

First, I should recommend an upgrade to current code where they don’t exist on older homes?

Second, should I recommend AFCIs be installed on renovations (lots of these in DC) when the developer/contractor didn’t install them?

We just make a blanket recommendation on just about every inspection except new construction, that they are upgraded building standards and client should consult with electrician to access upgrading.

Thanks, much appreciated. I just spoke with a few AHJ’s and I think I’ll start making recommendations to upgrade, as you suggested.

Keep it simple… “Current Standards” (2015) basically calls for AFCI on ALL home circuits. Recommend upgrading to “Current Standards”. (Note: there is NO mention of “Code” anywhere). It’s all about the Safety of your Client and his/her family in their home.

Your dates and references to the NEC regarding when AFCI requirements were introduced and expanded are incorrect.

Maryland codes are adopted on a county by county basis, not at the state level.

I use the “recommend” for needs to be done, and “consider” for optional stuff. Code upgrades are usually optional unless a major reno requiring permits has been done.
How strongly do you fee AFCIs will have a major impact on reducing house fires? They remind me of those 200 pound, insurance car bumpers of the 1970’s (where are those now?).
The fires making the news where I am are mostly caused by careless disposal of cigarette butts (not emptying outdoor ash trays) or arsonists a house down the street from me, candles and curtains :frowning:

The way the code is set is 2008 NEC bedrooms on AFCI only. In 2011 it was expanded to include bedroom, living room, dining room, hall ways, lighting, finished basements and other general finished living spaces, did not . In 2014 the code changed and now everything except bathrooms, garage, outside, unfinished basements, and attics. When it comes to recommending and upgrade on a current installation you can do that but to actually make it happen it could be a problem depending on wiring method used at the time 12-3 vs. 12-2-2. When you install arc faults they require independent Neutrals. the only manufacture that make a 2 pole arc fault breaking that i know is Siemens/murry. Best off to leave existing installs alone without further eval from an electrician. When it comes to renovations being performed all installation need to be installed to the current accepted code cycle in your jurisdiction. So if its a newer house the code cycle used matches the year construction started. So if you walk into a house built it 08-09 and no arc faults are present in bedrooms that is a problem. If you go into a older home that has an addition or renovation done in the past year or two on an area in the home that requires them and no arc faults are present then there is an issue. One thing you have to keep in mind is that if the build, addition, or renovation was done with proper permits then you should not run into these issues. just a piece of info for people out there the new afci breakers by manufactures are starting to come with clear test buttons. they have a test code light built in to them. Hold the test button and reset the breaker and a led fault light will flash a number of times to indicate what type of fault that is. (for sure Eaton, and Square D do this). An AFCI tester is a great tool to have. Its always a good idea to get the light socket adapter for the tester seeing that lighting is on AFCI circuits now. lasty also note depending on the way it was wired you may see a standard breaker in the panel but the electrician installed a AFCI receptacle at the first outlet in the branch circuit. One thing i recommend to other inspectors in my area is when a code class pops up if you are interested pay and go. you learn a lot of the new things coming into the field and there are a lot of experienced contractors there to pick their brain about situations you run into. Its always good to know a good electrician to have on call when you run into something you haven’t seen and have a question.

^ Just put that in your report :slight_smile:

Although the areas requiring AFCi protection is expanding with each code cycle I would stop short of saying that “all” home circuit require AFCI protection under the 2014 NEC.

I do not recommend upgrading to afci. Usually just causes buyer to be concerned where no concern is warranted.

So potentially arcing connections hidden in the wall are of no concern? Do you typically also advocate against other safety features like gfi’s?