Should we recommend circuit breakers to be updated to AFCI

Good Afternoon,
Generally speaking, should we recommend circuit breakers be updated (as necessary) if they do not have AFCI’s or do we just comment on what we see.
For example, everything looks fine but its not up to the latest code.
Also, Do you guys test AFCI’s in the electric panel. Some would say we should not be tripping circuit breakers. I am in NYC.

Thats a personal call. You cant realistically expect an older building to meet the ever changing evolving/devolving codes, but afci breakers make sense to improve safety.

I would make clients aware of afci breakers and outlets and what they do and why they make a home safer, but not “recommend” anything.

Tripping breakers/outlets is the only way to test if they work and manufacturers typically want breakers be tested every month. GFCI and I assume also AFCI outlets fail regularly and only act as a placebo without testing. Becareful of testing breakers without warning people, computers or other sensitive equipment could get damaged.

I do not recommend them on older homes. The bedrooms are where they are required but most older homes have the lights, hallway and even living rooms all tied together. So you go and tell them for enhanced safety that they should put them in. Now every time they turn on a light or sit down to watch TV they trip the breaker. Does that make sense??

AFCI are required in all new construction.

Prior, as with GFCI, did you not recommend upgrading if GFCI were not installed in hazardous locations as per the latest standards?

At a minimum, for safety, every home should have AFCI in all bedrooms.

A buyer cannot require the seller to install them, but there is no harm in asking for the upgrade. If the seller says no, the buyer now knows they need to budget for them if it is important to them.

Do your clients want to risk their families lives on old Standards? If yes, perhaps they should remove the seatbelts and air bags from their fancy vehicles!

Get the point?

And its a good point. Though I must say I still like the manual adjust lap belts instead of these harness thing that just keep sucking you in. :twisted:

I would educate the client, but not ask they be installed. AFCIs may or may not offer some protection, but they still have major issues with nuisance tripping which may bother home owners.

Also some older homes have shared neutral circuits which make installation difficult and with some panels impossible such as manufactures that do not make single pole breakers compatible with MWBC.

There is a plus, many AFCI contain 30 or 50ma GFI protection which is exceptionally good at catching wiring errors such as over driven staples or dangerous current leaking to EGCs. The arc protection may also catch loose connections or frayed cords.

In the end its up to the home owner. The cons are price and nuisance tripping, the up side wiring errors will be caught.

AFCIs is a topic that sparks intense page long debate even in professional electrical forums, so IMO its an educated choice the HO should make.

Unfortunately its not always cut and dry. The amount of protection offered is in question as arc faults themselves are not the only cause of fire. In fact its said glowing connections make up the majority. Also in question is the ability to not nuisance trip. AFCIs are an intensely debated subject with opinions going every which way.

If I may, some recent debates on pro forums:

A Home Owner struggling with them:

I apologize for the links where each one is a fire hose of intense debate, but I did learn a lot from them.

Regardless of where they are installed if the breaker is tripping it is sensing a wiring issue and shutting down to prevent issues like a fire. Doe it make sense to allow the arc to continue?

No, because if the breakers trip regularly, there are other issues. Need an electrician at that point. Breakers don’t trip just because they are there.

However, Opinions of what AFCI’s can do and can’t do is not at debate here. The HI does not need to get into specifics or theory of use. They however recommend GFCI Devices all the time so recommending AFCI protection is always a safety enhancement.

I would not worry too much about the issue of tripping…while this is still possible and is experienced in some cases it is not as wide spread as the total volume of sales of the devices. At the least you can recommend AFCI Devices as simple a recommended safety enhancements that they have speak to a local electrician for further details.

During any future upgrading of the electrical system or for added safety, we recommend installing GFCI and AFCI outlets in all appropriate areas to further reduce shock and/or short hazards.

So you recommend AFCI for total home coverage, right?

Where that maybe nowadays.

What the heck does that mean?

I had a yes/no question. If you wish to elaborate, that would be awesome. I and most others here are fluent in English. Try it sometime. :roll:

First of all Eat me JJ!:smiley:

Family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms,
parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation
rooms, closets, hallways,.
The reason I stated " Where that maybe nowadays" was to keep from typing what I did. I’m lazy!
Happy now?

Exception No. 1: If RMC, IMC, EMT, Type MC, or steel
armored Type AC cables meeting the requirements of
250.118 and metal outlet and junction boxes are installed
for the portion of the branch circuit between the branch circuit
overcurrent device and the first outlet, it shall be
permitted to install an outlet branch-circuit type AFCI at
the first outlet to provide protection for the remaining portion
of the branch circuit.

So then your answer is NO?

Is that your Inspector answer, or your Builder answer, or both?

What is the current standard in your area of operation (as an Inspector)?

Like I stated in post 11.

Yes! For the most part.
How about utility rooms are they supposed to be AFCI?

So when you go to sell “your house” are you going to upgrade everything in it to current building code standards?

NO! Thats why I recommend during any future upgrading.