Let’s stop pretending that new homes are immune from electrical fires and that they will never become old homes, says Don Bliss, vice-president of Field Operations for NFPA. Studies by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other organizations have found that the frequency of electrical fires is higher in homes that are more than 40 years old than they are in newer homes for a number of reasons, including inadequate electrical systems, misuse of extension cords, and poorly done electrical repairs.
“The homes of today will not be immune to these conditions as they become the older homes of tomorrow,” he says.
But there is a way to keep newer homes safe from electrical fires as they age: install arc-fault circuit interrupters, or AFCIs, as specified in the 2014 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®. Opponents of AFCIs claim that they increase the cost of new homes beyond the means of prospective buyers, but the truth is that installing AFCI’s costs about the same as a cup of coffee per month over the life of a 30-year mortgage.
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