AFCI requirement?

Old 11-21-03, 09:16 PM
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AFCI requirement?

Just when you think you know everything. A friend has a house where their bedroom circuit keeps tripping when something else in the house is turned on.

I go down to the breaker panel and find something I never heard of.... an AFCI. So I take it down to the local hardware store and ask the guy what it's used for. He said "it's used for circuits with motors on them". Odd I thought. So I bought just a regular breaker, installed it, and everything has been fine.

I'm finding out now that this guy at the store was not right and that this is now a requirement on new wiring. What is the requirement, and why is it needed? Is it "really" necessary? Why only the bedrooms?

BTW I found out the truth about these things at a Home Depot (of all places)... the guy mumbled something about Clinton paying back the electrical manufacturers lobby.

Old 11-22-03, 04:22 AM
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Sure, one more thing to blame on Clinton.

They are a pain though. IMO they were rushed through (yes, probably for political reasons) and were not designed very well. I have had several problems where anything that is plugged in is turned on the breaker trips. Brand new houses so you know it's not wiring arcing and the other rooms were fine.

For some reason our area has reverted back to the 1999 code, after a short time using the 2002, so we are not required to install them, yet.
Old 11-22-03, 04:51 AM
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The 1999 electric code required them for bedroom receptacles only. The 2002 code requires them for all bedroom outlets (includes receptacles and lighting/detector outlets).
The reason for the bedroom only, I'm not sure.
Old 11-23-03, 08:16 AM
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The reason for the AFCI IMO is because people are most vulnerable to fire and its' affects while they are sleeping. Broken wires in heating blankets spring to mind.
Old 11-23-03, 09:22 AM
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All AFCIs have built in ground fault protection (like a GFCI except that the ground fault protection in the AFCI trips at 30 to 50 mA and a GFCI trips at 4 to 6 mA). The most common reason for an AFCI to trip is a neutral to ground connection on the load side of the AFCI. You need to look at all of the boxes on the AFCI protected circuit. I expect that you will find a bare ground wire touching a neutral wire at a termination point. This can happen when the device is tucked into the box if the installer is not careful.
Old 11-23-03, 09:30 AM
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I agree with Don. You ought to find and fix this problem, and this is a real problem. What you've done so far is hide it by sweeping it under the rug -- not usually a good solution for electrical problems.

By the way, if this house had an AFCI breaker, there's a reasonable chance that it's still covered under a builder's warranty.

Another by the way. If you are not a licensed electrician and you did electrical work on your friend's house, you have opened yourself up to enormous liability if something bad were to happen. This is another reason to go back and address the problem head on.

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