What is an arc fault?
A ground fault, or a short circuit, happens when a live wire comes into contact with a ground – that ground can be a neutral wire or it can be a human body. Circuit breakers and GFCI outlets protect people from serious shock from ground faults.
An arc fault, on the other hand, occurs when a loose or corroded connection or exposed wire makes contact and causes arcing between the connections. Because circuit breakers are designed to trip when a ground fault happens, an arc fault may not trip the circuit breakers, and so pose a serious danger of electrical fire.
Protecting against arc faults
You can protect your home from potentially dangerous arc faults by having a professional electrician install AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) breakers in your electrical panel. Arc fault breakers are specifically designed to detect arc faults and cut the power to the faulty circuit.