Part IV, Arc Fault Absent? So What?

Arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) protection is new enough that most brand new homes don’t have it in ALL the right places. So, why are Texas Inspectors being required to report them as a “Deficiency” in

    older

homes? Because they are the newest form of home safety equipment.

Actually, this question gets to the bottom line of the reason for the new Standards of Practice for Texas home inspectors: namely, educating the home-buying public regarding home safety. As home building codes have changed, home safety has become more and more of a priority. We know that ground fault and arc fault electrical protection saves lives. So, home inspectors will now list the absence of arc fault and ground fault protection in the home (no matter what age home) as a deficiency which deserves consideration of an upgrade.

So, what is arc fault protection? AFCI protection is a technology which constantly monitors the electrical circuit for overheating. Over the last few years, the arc fault protection has been required only in bedroom circuits, but, beginning with the 2008 National Electric Code, arc fault protection is required on EVERY circuit which does not require ground fault protection. WOW! Everything!? Yep!

If it’s not close to a water or an exterior source, it’s still susceptible to overheating. And, overheating in the circuit is what arc fault protection is designed to monitor. AFCI equipment monitors the circuit and shuts down the power in the circuit when overheating is detected.

Upgrade vs. “In Need of Repair”

Formerly, Texas home inspectors used the phrase “In Need or Repair” to describe an issue we identified in a home which did not meet up to common standards or construction industry standards. After the February 1, 2009 revisions, home inspectors report such issues as “Deficiencies” in the home we are inspecting. So, for example, arc fault protection not present in all required locations would now be reported as a “Deficiency,” not as “In Need of Repair.” This makes sense, because the outlets in required areas are probably working exactly as they should. They are in need of UPGRADING. not repair.

There are lots of similar items and issues which have changed since the new Standards have begun. Stay tuned to our web site for more information, and for sensible explanations of the things you need to know about the changes. We’re comitted to educating the real estate industry and the home-buying public in all sorts of ways.

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