Circuit Breaker Trips

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  #1  
Old 11-28-05, 10:22 AM
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Circuit Breaker Trips

We have a newer home (built in 2003). Ever since we moved in we have had the occasional problem of one circuit breaker tripping. The only thing on it is the kids' bedrooms and bathroom. There are no appliances - just the lights and nightlights and bathroom fan. That's it. The breaker trips whenever the power goes out (i.e. when the power comes back on, that breaker is tripped and the power remains out in that part of the house until I go out and flip the switch). It also trips whenever there is "flicker" in the power - you know when the lights kind of dim for an instant. Sometimes it seems to trip for no apparent reason and it most often occurs in the middle of the night when the power usage would be very minimal. We have replaced the switch and that's not the problem. Does anyone have any ideas what would be causing this and where we should start looking? Thanks in advance for any help!
 
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Old 11-28-05, 10:30 AM
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Is this an AFCI breaker? If so, there were some recalls on some of them. Perhaps it is one of the bad ones.
 
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Old 11-28-05, 12:29 PM
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I agree. It may be an issue with an arc-fault circuit breaker. I once had a GFCI receptacle on the circuit of an AFCI breaker. When resetting the GFCI receptacle, the AFCI breaker would trip. But other than that extra step in resetting, everything else was normal and worked fine.
 
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Old 11-28-05, 02:33 PM
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I'm guessing it's an AFCI - shortly after we moved in, the electrician switched the breaker with another breaker (master bedroom) so we could see if it was a bad breaker. The problem still existed in the same rooms so we concluded the breaker wasn't the problem. Had the breaker been faulty, the problem would have continued, but in the master bedroom instead of in the kids' bedroom, correct?
 
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Old 11-28-05, 03:22 PM
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one more thing I just thought of - shortly after we moved in, my husband installed a fan timer for the bathroom fan - the original one was just an on/off switch and I got tired of having it left on all the time, so I had him put in a timer. Could this have anything to do with our problem? The fan has never been on when the circuit breaker has tripped, however.
 
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Old 11-28-05, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mtndweller
I'm guessing it's an AFCI
Let's not guess. Does the breaker have a blue or green test button on it?

I don't think a PROPERLY-installed timer would do this, though it, too, may trip a finicky AFCI breaker.

If this is an AFCI breaker, I don't think you have anything unsafe, just a nuisance of resetting. I've seen brand new, non-recalled, AFCI breakers be especially finicky on otherwise fine circuits. I think it's only a matter of time before they are no longer required by the NEC. I've heard there are some AHJs (localities) that exempt this requirement.
 
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Old 11-28-05, 05:00 PM
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It's blue - does this mean it's an an AFCI breaker?
 
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Old 11-28-05, 06:11 PM
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Yes, green OR blue is an AFCI breaker. Every outlet in a bedroom including lighting is supposed to be on one of those in the newer Codes.
 
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Old 11-28-05, 07:37 PM
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Any ideas on what we can do to make it stop tripping all the time? I don't think there's anything dangerous going on, but it's a pain in the butt to have to keep going out and flipping the circuit breaker. It's done it about 3 times in the past week for some reason. Sometimes it goes for a month or longer and then other times it will do it 3 or 4 times in a week or two. It's driving me crazy.
 
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Old 11-29-05, 12:16 AM
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I'll probably get hammered for even thinking this, but there are a helluva lot of houses out there that do not have an AFCI breaker... What you do with that information is beyond my control...
 
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Old 11-29-05, 04:16 AM
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Just a wild stab here, but are the night lights the kind that automatically turn on when the room is dark? We used to have some that would kind of flicker (1) when the room was dim but not completely dark or (2) when an object would be too close to the nightlight and reflect the light from the night light back into the sensor. Maybe this flickering could be fooling the AFCI into thinking there is a fault?
 
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Old 11-29-05, 07:17 AM
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Go to the panel and write down the exact make and model of the breaker. Then call the manufacturer. They are dealing with lots of these kind of issues now, and they can give you their latest advice. You can probably also find this information on their web site. Sometimes they blame the appliances you're running, such as vacuum cleaners, and suggest you buy a new one.

The manufacturer can tell you, based on the model number, if the breaker has been recalled. If so, they'll probably send you a new one, and may even pay to have it installed.
 
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Old 11-29-05, 01:10 PM
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About the nightlight - yes, it is the kind that has a sensor so it's on during the night and off during the day. I haven't noticed it flickering but it might be. Most all the times that the breaker trips are in the middle of the night or very early morning. I think we had the problem before we had the nightlight, though, now that I think about it.

Regarding a faulty or recalled breaker - wouldn't it be true that if there was something amiss with the breaker that the problem would have switched to the other area of the house (the master bedroom) when the two breakers were switched by the electrician???? The breakers were exchanged, but the problem remained in the same rooms. Wouldn't that indicate that the problem isn't with the breaker but with the wiring or something else?

Thanks everyone for all your help with this -
 
  #14  
Old 11-29-05, 01:28 PM
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What causes it to Trip

AFCI breakers trip when there is an "Arc-Fault". This can be caused by an appliance or a bad cord or a poorly installed outlet, etc.

First make sure that all outlets, switches, etc are tightly connected. A 15 amp "back-stab" connected outlet could cause the problem. Also check that all plug in devices have good cords and plugs.

If these don't solve the problem then it might be the breaker itself.
 
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