Education Library

What is an ACFI, and why do I need it?

FAQ 2: What is an ACFI, and why do I need it?

ACFIwhat is an ACFIAFCI (Arc-Fault-Circuit-Interrupting) breakers and receptacles (also known as AFI or simply “arc-fault”) have been on the scene since the early 2000s. Beginning with the 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC) they are being required almost everywhere in residential applications that is not already protected by a GFCI.


Both have test buttons. Both protect. They look alike. (You may not be able to tell the difference unless you look closely!)

After that, the differences are HUGE. GFCIs protect from differential current—i.e., what’s coming in and what’s going out. (See our GFCI article.) AFCIs, on the other hand, protect from FIRE. They are designed to save lives. Thus, they are taking on a prominence that will only be increasing, and they are adding to the costs of construction significantly—typically, AFCI breakers cost between $40 and $80, and receptacles around $30 or more.


AFCIs are a bit more complicated to explain than GFCIs, because they measure two things: arcing (electricity traveling through the air or other substance instead of wires) and current (load). [Read more…]

FAQ 1: What are GFCI receptacles, and why do I need them?

FAQ 1: What are GFCI receptacles, and why do I need them?

GFCI (Ground-Fault-Circuit-Interrupting) receptacles—the outlets with the push buttons—are designed to protect people and animals from electric shock.  They’re also known as GFIs or simply “ground-fault.”


GCFIGFCIs measure incoming current vs. outgoing current, and are designed to trip if the smallest fraction (around 4-8 milliamps, or thousands of an amp) are going out through some other path, whether through a person, a piece of equipment, or faulty wiring. Remember that tingle you felt when something didn’t work right? A correctly-functioning GFCI would trip and keep you from getting electrocuted. (Since nearly two-thirds of all home-related electrical deaths are due to ground-fault conditions, GFCIs are important in keeping people safe!)

Believe it or not, [Read more…]

Why GFCIs are Safe

Home Inspection Headaches: Do We HAVE to Rewire Old Receptacles?

ungrounded vs grounded outlets

PROBLEM: The home inspector says that the home’s 3-wire receptacles don’t have ground connected and must be fixed.

If you’re trying to sell a home, you may be surprised to hear the home inspector report that your 3-wire receptacles (the “monkey face” outlets) aren’t actually grounded.

This occasionally happens in older homes. At some point, someone simply replaced the old ungrounded 2-wire receptacles with new 3-wire receptacles—often because they have equipment with 3-wire cords and it’s simply inconvenient to purchase adaptors—but didn’t actually ground the connections.

When that happens, and the house goes up for sale, triggering a home inspection report, the home inspector must report such a condition. What’s the seller to do?

[Read more…]