AFCI keeps tripping-every 6 days!--REALLY


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Old 05-08-09, 09:47 PM
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AFCI keeps tripping-every 6 days!--REALLY

posted on the breaker tripping before but got no replys. The next time it happened, I wrote down the date and time. My entertainment center was then unplugged to try to diagnose problem. It tripped 6 days later. Then 5days later, I shut off main breaker as I was adding new circuit to panel. The AFCI tripped 6 days after I turned breaker back on. Started to see a pattern. Last night I was working on my computer at around 1:25. I knew it was getting close to being 6 days from the last time it tripped and while I was sitting there, it tripped--6 days to within 2 minutes! The time that I shut off the main, it is as if I reset the cycle as the next trip was to within 30 min of 6 days, although I am not certain what time I got breaker turned back on so it could be closer. this is a very simple circuit that I just put in, replacing old bx that was crumbling and adding some new outlets also. the room is right above the panel and the basement is unfinished so all cables easily visible. the cable come out of panel to junction box in basement. from there, there are 4 cables, all going to outlets-one for each wall. from one outlet, cable goes to switch and then to single overhead light. All of this is new-breaker, wire, receptacles, switches, light. I have square D QO panel. the main thing on this circuit is my computer and all the peripherals including printer, scanner, modem, router, switch, TV tuner, slingbox, VCR. These are plugged into a surge suppressing power strip that does have an LED to indicate if you have a ground. It it has that, then there must be some current flowing on the ground wire? could this contribute since The AFCI does have some GFCI protection? It just seems that it can't be chance that this happens 6 days apart. Like some charge is building up and then arcs? my notes from this:

tues 4/14 10AM tripped
mon 4/20 some where between 9:25 and 10:10AM tripped
sun 4/26 approx 2AM shut off main and then turned back on
Sat 5/2 1:27AM tripped
Fri 5/8 1:29AM tripped

so I guess I am OK till thurs 5/14 and about 1:30AM!
 
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Old 05-09-09, 04:45 AM
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Sounds like the warranty on my last car. Things began to die the day after the warranty expired. Sort of like GM put a timer on things.
If you have new wiring, and can be assured there are no leak points in your junction boxes, my guess would be a faulty AFCI. I know they are expensive and you may or may not be able to exchange the one you have, that would be the next thing I would check out. That's weird!
 
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Old 05-09-09, 06:42 AM
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I believe AFCI do not provide any GFCI protection.

The timing thing is very odd but don't get hung up on that. I suggest double checking all your connections of the devices on that circuit. Make sure they are tight and that there are no ground wires touching the neutral screws on the receptacles. (or even close) Also make sure your connections are good in the J-box and in the panel. Also is the light a CFL? Maybe try changing that to a standard bulb.

Now for the time thing. Think of anything that has a timer or resets every 6 days. Do you have a water softener that recharges? Fridge that defrosts? Here's a crazy one: Does your router, switch, modem, slingbox, reset or get new leases every 6 days?

Pay attention to what you are doing and what is running at the time of the trip. Also, you should not have to trip the main. Just the AFCI breaker.
 
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Old 05-09-09, 07:15 AM
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My breakers do provide GFCI protection, although not class A.

While not out of the realm of possibility, I don't think I have any problems with my new wiring. I am very cautious and on my splices, I wrap the wires with tape after putting on a wire nut. On my switches and receptacles, I tape around them after wiring them to cover the screws so the bare ground can't contact them.

The overhead light IS CFL. It has been since I installed it. Takes two bulbs equivalent to 60watts each. Why could CFL cause something like this?

can check router to see when gets new lease. nothing on timer. computer is on 24/7 since it must be on for other computers to access the printer and I am able to program my TV tuner to tape remotely from any computer with internet access, so I got in habit of just leaving computer on all the time.
 
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Old 05-09-09, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by hammerash View Post
The overhead light IS CFL. It has been since I installed it. Takes two bulbs equivalent to 60watts each. Why could CFL cause something like this?
I wouldn't think a CFL would cause your issue. But since it is so odd I just pulled that one out of my butt.

Did you twist the wires together before installing the wirenut and tape?
 
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Old 05-09-09, 09:22 AM
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yes, I twist them tight before putting on wire nut. They would stay together even without the wire nut.

I think I will contact Schneider. And see what happens Thursday at 1:30! It really was unbelieveable when I was at my computer Fri at around 1:30AM, wondering if it was going to trip, and it did! I have checked my IP and will do so every day to see if it changes before breaker trips again.
 
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Old 05-09-09, 02:40 PM
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Do you have any updates on your computer set up at that time? They will coming through your router atuomately if you have DSL or any high speed internet.

Jim
 
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Old 05-09-09, 04:09 PM
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No. I did have windows set up to download and install updates automatically, but it was 3AM and it was daily. I just stopped that because some updates require restart and windows would shut down but would not completely restart since a password is needed. So if I was away and the computer got stuck in the start up phase, none of my scheduled TV programs would record.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by hammerash View Post
yes, I twist them tight before putting on wire nut.
That's not correct. The wires should be parallel when you insert them into the nut. Twisting the nut will couple the wires. Still, that's not the cause of your problem.

The computer can be set up to automatically bypass the logon and launch the program after a power failure. That's off-topic for this forum. You can ask that question in the Computers forum.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 08:34 AM
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This has nothing to do with timing, and involved GFCIs not AFCIs, but there may be some info to help you.

Our office used to have computers plugged into one UPS circuit with GFCIs, and those computers were connected to monitors on a separate GFCI circuit.

When our weekly generator test took place, and any time there was an outage, the computer GFCI would trip. We found two problems: The first was that the electrician had wired the UPS-backed load center as if it were 3 phase, like the rest of the power system, even though it was single-phase 120V. So one neutral was carrying the return current for three 20A circuits.

But that was not what was causing the GFCIs to trip. Apparently some current was leaking from the computer to the monitor, and under normal conditions there was no problem, but when the transfer switch engaged, it would trip the GFCI. We rigged extension cords to get monitors on the same circuit as the computers, and then we had the electrician replace the GFCI breakers with regular breakers. (I don't remember why the electricians originally installed the GFCIs, but as a telecom facility it was not subject to local electrical code anyway.)

The timing thing is odd. Do you have any utility-controlled switches, such as for an interruptible water heater or air conditioner circuit? Not sure how that would be an issue but I can't think of anything else.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 02:29 PM
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I was always told to twist them first and I followed the page below taken from "wiring a house:for pros by pros". I have seen ones done by others that were not pretwisted come apart quite a few times. I have never had that problem.

 
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Old 05-10-09, 02:40 PM
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looks like pic didn't come out too good. try again

 
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Old 05-10-09, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick Johnston View Post
That's not correct. The wires should be parallel when you insert them into the nut. Twisting the nut will couple the wires.
big deal like a electric inspector is going to go you failed inspection cause you pre-twisted the wires together before using the wire nut. thats the way its always been done.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 03:53 PM
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In Usenet it is Godwin's Law. Here it is the Twist and Tape Law.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 05:12 PM
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So far as the timing thing, it might be interesting for you to call the electric company, talk to an engineering type if you can, and find out if they were switching loads (or doing anything else to the electric supply in your area) on those dates and times.

Also would one of your nearby neighbors be doing something at that time? Perhaps someone has a wood shop and heavy equipment?

There have been a LOT of problems with AFCI's. It would be interesting if you could link the problem to something external.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 05:20 PM
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Chase your tail or try a new AFCI. At least you will know.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 05:30 PM
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no neighbors nearby that have any kind of shop or any heavy equipment, and I don't think any of them would even be up at that time. I will be awaiting the next "scheduled" trip of breaker for curiousitys sake. then will probably get new breaker to try it out. calling poco is good idea. and probably call schneider as well (manufacturer). I would like to disconnect all loads to see if the anti surge power strip could be problem, but since this is only circuit in this room and my computer and modem and router are there, it makes it hard to do that. I had an receptacle in next room close by, but I am currently running an extension cord from computer room into that room to run my entertainment center because someone had wired that one wrong. I suspect they lost the neutral and then brought another circuit into the outlet to share the neutral. But both circuits were on same leg of panel. I just decided to shut that one down and will be replacing that circuit at some point.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 06:37 PM
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Any electrician worth his salt will twist the wires together before installing the wirenut. You did nothing wrong.
 
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Old 05-11-09, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
Any electrician worth his salt will twist the wires together before installing the wirenut. You did nothing wrong.
What if the manufacturer says:

Features
Three color-coded models available to meet your needs
Accept #18 through #6 AWG wires
Contoured wing design for secure grip
Live-action, square-wire spring
No pre-twisting required
UL Listed and CSA Certified
Reusable
Shell rated for 105 C
Flame-retardant polypropelene shell

I don't pre-twist (I must be salt-free). I use the tug and pull test.
 
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Old 05-11-09, 04:36 PM
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No pretwisting required does not mean that it is not ok to do so. You just don't have to. We twist to help make sure there is a good connection and not to rely on a 3 cent wirenut.

You don't necessarily do anything wrong either but I tend to get a little irritated when opening a splice and it falls apart when I remove the wirenut.
 
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Old 05-11-09, 05:03 PM
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Or you could do it the old way. Twist, solder, wrap with rubber tape then finish with a wrap of friction tape. Always wondered how many houses burned down because the electrician working in a cramped attic knocked over the gasoline blow torch that he was using to heat the soldering iron.

Please note the preceding was for entertainment only and may not represent the current NEC codes.
 
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Old 05-13-09, 08:24 PM
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I recently attended a seminar where a faulty vacuum bottle on a POCO capacitor switch was causing all the AFCI's on that phase to trip in that particular neighborhood. It was limited to a certain AFCI manufacturer, but they did not disclose which one.
This is probably NOT the case if your other AFCI's are not tripping, but I thought I'd throw it in.
 
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Old 05-13-09, 08:30 PM
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well I am two hours away from my next scheduled trip of the AFCI! by the way, my IP address has not changed since I started checking for whoever had that thought.

I don't have any other AFCI yet. I put on addition and all of it will have AFCI when done. I am updating old wiring so that is why I have this one.
 
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Old 05-13-09, 10:47 PM
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for those that are curious-at 1:29AM the breaker tripped--right on schedule. I still have same IP so I think we can eliminate that. The calls will start next week-to POCO, schneider electric, comcast. try to see if anyone can think of some reason.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 10:15 AM
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My money's on the power company.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 11:28 AM
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no luck with POCO. I couldn't speak to anyone with any technical knowledge. The woman said I would have to schedule a service call and if they did'nt find anything I would be charge $80. She just didn't get it. I asked if they switched anything every 6 days but I don't think she really knows anything. She said I should talk to an electrician. I told her that I did-many actually, and that it was suggested I call POCO. I guess I am going to have to swap out breaker. I actually have another circuit about to come online with AFCI, but had problem with insulation/venting so had to delay drywall. I could just switch the breakers and see if it still occurs.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 11:54 AM
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found something. just got off phone with schneider electric. After telling him problem he said that they had problem with a run and they were tripping every 4 or 6 days! He said that it had been awhile and that the breakers must be older. I said that I bought them at HD a while ago but just installed it about a month ago. I went and found box for another one that was purchased same day and told him date code. He came back and said that it did fall in the problem run. Found that same code on the one that is tripping. So both of those will have to go back. I have another that has different date code and he said that one should be OK.
 
 

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