AFCI troubleshooting - suggestions/thread links welcome

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  #1  
Old 10-17-05, 05:26 PM
Aussiecheezhead
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Angry AFCI troubleshooting - suggestions/thread links welcome

I just want to start out with this:

OK, I had to install two AFCI breakers for a basement remodel done in accordance with local building codes and inspector oversight.

One 15A AFCI breaker works perfectly (i.e. I can install one correctly) on the lighting circuit. HOWEVER, the 20A AFCI providing power to receptacles in the basement trips when anything is plugged into one of outlets. It does not trip *until* one of the receptacles is asked for power.
This job was a replacement of a regular 20A breaker, and everything seemed to be working fine. I even have one of those $3 testers that you plug into the outlets to see if the hot/neutral are switched or the ground is open, etc and all the outlets check out "correct".


SO, my troubleshooting guide says that I may have a neutral terminating somewhere other than the panel, or a neutral to ground connection (same thing perhaps?)

About a dozen receptacles populate this branch circuit. The wires coming into/out of the boxes are pigtailed so that the circuit continues to function even if one of the receptacles is defective or hooked up wrong. This circuit has been in use for over 6 months, but only recently were all the recepts added. I just finished the entire basement and was thinking of having my final inspection this week.

Doh!

What do you guys think is the best place to start? I was thinking I could disconnect all the recepts except one, and then plug something into this one and see if it trips. Wouldn't this tell me if I had an issue at the recepts or in one of the splices behind the walls?

I was worried about these AFCI's, and I'm not blaming them....but, crap, what now?

Thanks for the ideas! You guys have always been really helpful!
 
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Old 10-17-05, 05:31 PM
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I have to ask. Is this a bedroom?

If so...
I usually start in the middle of the circuit. Remove the receptacle and undo the splice. If it is OK then the problem is downstream, if not it is upstream.
Then go in the direction of the problem and open the middle one again. This way you can eliminate half of the potential problem area at a time.
 
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Old 10-17-05, 05:36 PM
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Return the 20 amp afci for a new one. Install the new afci breaker and if it does the same thing, get back to us.

Hope you kept your sales receipt!

Did you buy a combination afci/gfci breaker?
 
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Old 10-17-05, 05:48 PM
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I agree that the most likely explanation is that you have an accidental or on purpose interconnection of the neutral and grounding outside the panel. Speedy's divide-and-conquer strategy is probably your best bet.
 
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Old 10-18-05, 06:01 AM
Aussiecheezhead
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I like the middle-splice strategy. good stuff.

I'm pretty sure the breaker is functioning properly, but we'll see!

thanks guys.
 
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Old 10-19-05, 08:26 AM
Aussiecheezhead
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All Hail Moderator Nelson............

John Nelson, you are the man!

I modified your advice somewhat and took out a receptacle just downstream of a splice I made to see if it was my splice that was screwing things up (would have been the most severe problem as this box is hidden behind finished/painted drywall). When I followed your directions to cap off the circuit in this location, I could get power to all the remaining outlets w/o the breaker tripping. Fantastic!

So, I then spliced the rest of the circuit back together, BUT left disconnected this recept, and to my great surprise, all other recepts worked w/o the breaker tripping! Therefore, something was screwed up with this receptacle.....the first one I checked! I couldn't believe my good fortune, and thank you for suggesting the strategy.

Nothing was wrong with the breaker. Its been working fine under load now. I think I'll just put in a different receptacle and make sure the ground isn't bunching up against the neutral term when I screw everything back together.

THANKS!!
 
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Old 10-19-05, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Aussiecheezhead
(would have been the most severe problem as this box is hidden behind finished/painted drywall)
It is against code to have a junction box installed behind drywall. Please for your own safety correct this serious code violation ASAP.
 
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Old 10-19-05, 08:32 AM
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Excuse me...I think you said...
(would have been the most severe problem as this box is hidden behind finished/painted drywall)
Dude....you cant do this, you can NOT have junction boxes with wire splices that are not accessable. You have to be able to get to the box.
 
  #9  
Old 10-19-05, 08:59 AM
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A simple solution is to buy an access panel. They come in various sizes, but an 8"x8" is probably right for you. Cut an 8"x8" square directly over the buried junction box (careful not to hit the cables) and snap in the access panel. It's a quick remedy to this clear code violation.
 
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Old 10-20-05, 05:28 AM
Aussiecheezhead
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yikes!

thanks guys.

should be easy to fix!
 
  #11  
Old 02-19-07, 04:42 PM
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Unhappy Follow-Up To AFCI Issue

I Used the same process and come to a scary conclusion...the first receptacle in the chain popped the breaker. I replaced the recepacle and got the same thing. Either my homerun is bad or the AFCI is.

Any thoughts??

Matt
 
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Old 02-19-07, 05:07 PM
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mtitcombe: Follow above instructions!

Aussiecheezhead :"yikes!

thanks guys.

should be easy to fix!"

NOW.....Imagine, @ $75+/hr and I didn't know that box was there. Boy oh boy would you hate me (and yourself) when I found it.

All problems are simple when you find the cause.
 
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Old 02-19-07, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by mtitcombe View Post
I Used the same process and come to a scary conclusion...the first receptacle in the chain popped the breaker. I replaced the recepacle and got the same thing. Either my homerun is bad or the AFCI is.

Any thoughts??

Matt
ok this what i will do if tripped the breaker this part can get little tricky here

what you have to do with this receptacle make the note of connection then take it all i say all apart and safety get a wire nut or two cap off the black wire for safety reason even electical tape will do [ make sure you keep the kids and pet away from this one during this test ]

if the AFCI breaker dont trip then you have a really small nick or pitch on netrual and ground wire you have to look very closely to see where it have a cut or pitch somewhere

once you find it then do the proper repair to it but just head up sometime you will see the wire staple or strap being on too tight it can trip it as well [ not too often but it do happend ]

the other possiblty that you have nail or screw that got stray and hit the netural and ground wire [ it can happend also ]

so you have patince to find this curpit


Merci , Marc
 
  #14  
Old 03-08-09, 11:45 AM
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Smile Afci help

Originally Posted by french277V View Post
ok this what i will do if tripped the breaker this part can get little tricky here

what you have to do with this receptacle make the note of connection then take it all i say all apart and safety get a wire nut or two cap off the black wire for safety reason even electical tape will do [ make sure you keep the kids and pet away from this one during this test ]

if the AFCI breaker dont trip then you have a really small nick or pitch on netrual and ground wire you have to look very closely to see where it have a cut or pitch somewhere

once you find it then do the proper repair to it but just head up sometime you will see the wire staple or strap being on too tight it can trip it as well [ not too often but it do happend ]

the other possiblty that you have nail or screw that got stray and hit the netural and ground wire [ it can happend also ]

so you have patince to find this curpit


Merci , Marc
Hi there in my town they just enforced the AFCI breakers in all bed rooms in the beginning it was like hell finding out why the AFCI is tripping when I switch the light on or I plug something in the receptacles.. Like a night lamp

What I did is some ppl strip the wire pushing it in back of the switch or receptacle
Which is ok.. (if your using #14 wire you cant push in #12) and some ppl are using the screw what I thing is the best connection so I need to open up all switches & receptacles from the room and found out some wires wasn’t pushed in correctly and some wasn’t tight on the screw correctly and that made the breaker trip I am not 100% sure but I found out if a light bulb is 100% tight to the socket it will trip. to

Remember its an arc fault breaker so if there’s any arc when switching a light or plugging in something that will trip the breaker and its hard to locate..
If I am wrong please reply
 
  #15  
Old 03-08-09, 10:05 PM
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What brand breaker you have in the load center and the colour test button the reason why I ask ya due there is few verison of AFCI set up..


To troubleshooting it may be not easy find it but the impoart part is check all the connetions first and also make sure the netutal and ground conductors are not touching each other espcally on any devices it hook up please pay attetion to that details.

Other than that as I mention above get the breaker model number and colour test handle it will able tell you which type of AFCI breaker you have in there.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 06-27-13, 10:00 AM
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This thread is closed to additional posts. If you have a similar question just start a new thread please.
 
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