What is Arc fault circuit protection and is it required by code?

stash-hdyFebruary 16, 2010

This statement was on a home inspection report I was asked about.

Arc fault circuit protection is not installed, for the circuits which serve the

living areas, dining areas, gameroom, study, media room, gameroom, and


What does it do and why is it required for the rooms mentioned above?

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It protects against arcing wires. It is required in those areas under the 2008 NEC. If this is new construction it should be there. IF this is old house it is not required to be added unless major alterations are being made in those rooms.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:27AM
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Standard circuit breakers will trip if the circuit is overloaded. However, if there is arching in a fixture that could lead to a fire, the standard breaker does not sense an overload. an arch fault breaker will. By code, arc fault breakers are required in bedrooms with the idea that an arch fault breaker would trip while you are sleeping. Unless local codes prevail, the home inspector is basically assuming the whole home should be protected by arc fault breakers. These breakers are expensive and NEC code does not presently require that the entire home be protected.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:34AM
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Old work is grandfathered under the NEC.

Some localities require upgrades, but absent a local rule anything more than about 4 years old may not have ANY arc fault breakers.

The 2008 NEC increased the number of areas in a house requiring arc fault protection, but work that was compliant when finished and inspected is grandfathered absent a local rule to the contrary.

Sounds like an inspector trying to find something to squawk to justify his fee.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:28AM
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Ron Natalie

In the NEC 2005, only the 15 and 20 amp 120 volt branch circuits serving bedroom outlets (and in the code "outlet" refers to both receptacles and lighting) needed to be AFCI protected. NEC 2008 extended that to the "living space" as indicated in that list of rooms you provided. You're obviously in a NEC 2008 jurisidiction.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 10:10AM
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" NEC code does not presently require that the entire home be protected."


the 2008 NEC requires arc faults in basically the entire house living areas for 15/20 amp circuits and not just bedrooms. Previously it was just required in bedrooms however under the 2008 code they are required in all living areas (some exceptions of course). It is possible that the original poster does not fall under the 2008 code, however there is a better chance that they are in which case arc faults would be required in the areas they listed (not including grandfathered in cases).

I'm surprised at your post texasredhead since that was probably the biggest issue/change with the 2008 code change.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 10:39AM
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Ron Natalie

That and the TR receptacles. I just dodged our jurisdiction's adoption of 2008 on those two issues with my house.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:29AM
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I think Brickeyee covered the grandfather clause very well.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 1:25PM
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It's pretty common for real estate home inspection reports to mention anything not up to current code. Some also then state that when the structure was built or remodled the code was not or may not have been in effect.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 10:10PM
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