Also known as an AFCI, an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter is a type of circuit breaker which is designed to prevent the chance of a fire by detecting unintended electrical arcs and then disconnecting the power before that arc can create a fire. When it works correctly, an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter needs to be able to tell the difference between harmless arcs and undesirable arcs. Harmless arcs can occur as part of normal operations and are incidental in nature. Undesirable arcs can cause negative side effects and need to be distinguished from the normal arcs, such as where a lamp cord’s conductor breaks.
AFCI circuitry is designed to monitor currents on a continuous basis, constantly judging each current to determine whether it is normal or an unwanted arcing condition. AFCI circuitry is designed only to trip when the arcing conditions are abnormal. When the arcing condition is abnormal, however, the circuit is meant to trip, preventing the potential for fire or other damage. Often when electricity is not flowing from a socket, this is because the Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter has tripped, in which case someone will need to reset the circuit to restore the flow of electricity when the issue has passed. A professional electrician can help you diagnose problems relating to arc faults in your home or commercial building.