What the Inspectors Inspect: Part 14 GFCI AFCI AFLAC

There always seems to be several sections in some home inspection reports that stir more disagreement and confusion than most. One of those is the discussions of and recommendations for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) found or not found in the home. Hopefully, this article will help to relieve some of the stress and establish a basis for the discussion of those electrical devices. The best place to start is with a non-technical definition of each of these devices and then an explanation of how they operate and why they are used.

GFCI, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter was the first of these new electrical devices that showed up in wide spread residential applications in the 1970s and 80s. A GFCI is designed to detect an electrical leakage, or imbalance, in a circuit and open that circuit stopping current flow before someone receives a fatal shock. GFCI receptacles are not over current devices and have to be used down-stream of a circuit breaker that will interrupt the circuit if an over current situation occurs. A GFCI circuit breaker mounted in the electrical panel, however, provides both over current and GFCI protection.

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