You don’t have to be an electrician to understand the importance of and the different types of circuit breakers. Everyone should know how they work and how they protect both residential and commercial properties. Think of the circuit breaker in your home as the middleman: it shuts off power—for instance, to prevent a fire—and sometimes it happens even before you know it. There are three types: AFCI, GFCI, and the standard circuit breaker.
AFCI Circuit Breaker
AFCI stands for arc fault circuit interrupter. The AFCI reacts to a build up of heat. Sometimes in a home or building, damaged cords can result in an electrical arc, which is a dangerous jump in an electrical path. It can lead to a fire if there’s no AFCI in place to cut off power.
GFCI Circuit Breaker
GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. Unlike the AFCI sensing a build up of heat, the GFCI reacts quickly to a sudden surge in electrical currents. You probably have some GFCI outlets in your bathrooms or kitchen. These areas of the home have water available—and water and electricity do not mix. The GFCI is there to protect you from that danger.
You may notice a test and a reset button on your GFCI outlet. You can hit test, and the outlet should stop receiving power. Then hit reset to use it again. If your GFCI outlets aren’t testing properly call a residential licensed electrician to take a look.
Standard Circuit Breaker
Standard circuit breakers come in two forms: the single pole and the double pole, with the single pole being the most common. You should have plenty of them in your home in your circuit breaker box, usually located in a basement.
The standard circuit breaker is constantly monitoring your home or business for electrical currents in appliances and wiring. Have you ever had to find the circuit breaker box and flip a switch on one of the circuit breakers to make an appliance work again? That means the breaker sensed an overload in power and shut it down. If this happens often, have your electrician check it out to make sure your system is safe.
Understanding the different types of circuit breakers is helpful so you know when things aren’t acting right or when breakers are cutting off power too often. Any time you’re unsure of the safety of your home’s electrical system, C&S Electric is here to serve you and answer all of your questions.