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The How & Why of House Fires & Why to Consider Arc Fault Breakers

Electricity is often something we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. Our lights turn on at the flick of a switch and our food is toasting at the push of a button. Since electricity has become essential for our everyday lives, when something in our electrical system stops working properly or goes wrong, our day is often brought to a halt. We've compiled in layman's terms how some electrical house fires happen and what you can do to help prevent them in your home.


Electrical connections are essential to the health of your devices. Circuits start in your electrical panel and make their way through your home. You can see different electrical circuits by their labelling in a panel. You may have a single circuit where there are multiple outlets and light switches, and another circuit that is dedicated to only your HVAC unit or oven range. A circuit starts at your panel, runs through your house, and makes a reconnection (a full loop) back in your panel.

A phenomenon known as arcing happens when a connection becomes loose (think about a plug/outlet that has a loose wire in the back of it). The electrical component that has the bad connection (like a plug or a light fixture) tries to draw electricity from your electrical panel but doesn't have a solid connection, so it starts to arc in an attempt to make a good connection, thus creating heat. This is a potential hazard. When arcing is combined with exposed wiring that is not in an electrical box, damaged insulation, or failing components, a house fire can result.


Electrical fires typically have telltale signs that they're happening.

  • You may smell burning plastic

  • You may see discoloration of conductors/outlets

  • You may audibly hear sounds of arcing inside your electrical box, or somewhere in your home (like a hissing or crackling sound)


Arc fault breakers got their name by being able to detect a disruption in the sinusoidal waveform that flows through your home. These breakers have a special computer inside them that detects if a wire is arcing in this way. Arc fault breakers have been around for over 20 years and NEC first made it a requirement back in 2002. If your home was built in the 2000’s, it is likely that you have some of these breakers in your electrical panel, but for some, you may not. Here at Gloudeman Electric, we offer arc fault protection packages to offer you the comfort of knowing those breakers will protect you from arcing.

If you are interested in other safety packages, we offer a variety of options that cater to your concerns. We offer a whole house load test that tests the integrity of your wiring, a visual inspection of your crawlspace, attic, and panel, as well as whole house surge protection.

Please reach out if you have any questions!

Text or call us at 909-801-4009

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