Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

Traditional circuit breakers are primarily designed to protect the wires behind the walls as well as the switches and outlets they are connected to. These circuits will trip when a massive amount of electricity passes through the circuit causing a heat build-up within the breaker.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs), on the other hand, are designed to detect “electrical arcs” caused by broken or cut wires. Arcs can occur as a result of the following:

  • In appliance electrical cords where the insulation becomes brittle or is cracked;
  • In electrical cords behind walls that are nicked by nails or pinched by fasteners;
  • By loose connections where wires are attached to switches and outlets.

Bedrooms are more susceptible to these types of electrical problems due to the use of extension cords and the patterns of activity. As a result, the use of AFCIs in bedrooms is now considered a mandatory requirement in Saskatchewan, according to the Saskatchewan Interpretation of the Canadian Electrical Code. These breakers have now replaced normal circuit breakers in your electrical panel for circuits that provide power to the bedrooms. If the AFCI breaker trips, check extension cords for breakages first, and then consult your builder and/or an electrician before resetting the AFCI breaker.

Ground Fault Interrupters

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFIs or ground faults) is an automatic device that offers personal protection against electrical shock. GFIs are installed wherever there is the potential for contact between a person and an electrical appliance in or near moisture, water, or water pipes. They are typically located on outlets placed near swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, kitchen sinks, laundry rooms, bathrooms, or exterior plugs.power “leak” from an appliance that is possibly going through a personʼs body. In these cases, it will shut down the flow of current in a fraction of a second to save a person from possible electrocution.

Similar to an Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter, a GFI protection circuit can also be integrated into a breaker at the main electrical panel. One GFI can be wired to protect several electrical outlets on the same circuit. The circuit breaker GFI serves a dual purpose - not only will it shut off electricity in the event of a “ground-fault” but it will also trip when a short circuit or an overload occurs.

GFIs should be tested once a month using the “Test” and “Reset” buttons located between the plug receptacles.

  • Plug a light into the outlet with the light on.
  • Press the “Test” button. The power should be immediately cut and the “Reset” button will pop outward.
  • To reset the circuit simply press the “Reset” button. Power should be immediately restored.

Tripped Ground Fault Interrupters

If you have lost the power to a regular-looking outlet, it may be due to a tripped GFI further up the circuit line. In this case, check for faulty light bulbs, electrical cords or electrical appliances plugged into a GFI outlet or on a circuit protected by a GFI circuit breaker. If you have reoccurring electrical problems contact a professional electrician.