AFCI breaker trip

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  #1  
Old 01-26-14, 12:21 PM
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AFCI breaker trip

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Size:  51.2 KBI have two Arc Fault circuit breakers (Eaton 15 Amp Single Pole BR Type Breaker Fireguard AFCI model BR115AF) for master bdrm and the other bedrooms. The two breakers tripped one day apart. After the first AFCI CB (for all other bedroom) tripped, I tried to reset, but it does not respond to the test button anymore. I tried to check the 2nd AFCI CB, it works once, then tripped too, and no longer respond to test either. I bought two new AFCI CBs. Since Home Depot no longer carry Eaton 15 Amp Single Pole BR Type Breaker Fireguard AFCI, I bought Eaton 15 Amp Single Pole Combination Type Fireguard AFCI BR Type Breaker (model BR120CAFCS) instead. Following the instructions, I replaced the AFCI CBs, but they keep tripping. Before I replacing the CBs, I have read extensively on this site, following the the steps to rule out any potential source by removing all the loads form the outlet in all bedrooms, and still no luck. But I noticed that, inside the distribution panel, the grounds and neutrals are mixed together on the same bus (see picture attached). I wonder if that is the cause? If so, why previous AFCI CBs have worked?
I read one posting on this site regarding how to check if the breaker is still good: remove the black wire from the breaker and try to reset the breaker. If it holds, then it is good. I followed this method, but the breaker cannot hold. Does it mean, the new breaker I just replaced is dead?
 

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  #2  
Old 01-26-14, 12:29 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

In your main panel the ground and neutrals are connected to the same bus. This is normal. If this is a sub panel then they should be separated.

Just to be clear, the circuit breakers reset, restoring power to the circuit, but will not trip with the test button on the breaker, correct?
 
  #3  
Old 01-26-14, 01:10 PM
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After I replaced the circuit breaker, restoring power, the breaker immediately tripped. I reset the breaker and it trips again immediately.
 
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Old 01-26-14, 02:28 PM
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Are both circuits tripping?
 
  #5  
Old 01-26-14, 02:47 PM
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After I replaced the circuit breaker, restoring power, the breaker immediately tripped. I reset the breaker and it trips again immediately.
The change might be due to the fact you installed a combination AFCI breaker which is required now.

Have you changed or added anything recently? You will need to start taking things apart on the circuits until you clear the fault. Best thing to do is start about the middle of the circuit, disconnect half and see if the breaker holds. Look for a neutral to ground fault such as a ground wire touching the neutral screws of a receptacle.
 
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Old 01-27-14, 07:21 PM
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Yes. They are next to each other on the panel. Previous 2 AFCI circuit breakers are about 7 years old. The 1st one tripped last Friday. I tried to reset, but it does not respond when I pressed the test button. seems it is no good. Then, I checked the other one on Saturday. It responded once when I press the test button, then tripped, and no longer respond when I press the test button. I bought two new AFCI CBs and replaced the two. Both tripped immediately when energized, and keep tripping.
 
  #7  
Old 01-27-14, 07:26 PM
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I added a light with 3-way switches. After the breaker tripped, I removed the connection and replaced the old AFCI breakers with the new ones, but both breaker still tripping.

What is the key difference between the combination AFCI breaker and the previous one (non-combination)? Does it mean, if I replace the same model of the circuit breaker, it may work? Home Depot does not have the previous model in store anymore. I have to order online. It may take up to two weeks.

The other question I have is: if the new breaker tripping too often, will it be damaged? I noticed that sometimes, I reset, it seems hold in On, but bedroom is still no power. I am afraid that I might have broken the new breakers.
 
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Old 01-27-14, 07:26 PM
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Both tripped immediately when energized, and keep tripping.
Did you connect both the hot and neutral of the circuit to the breaker? Did you connect the neutral from the breaker to neutral bus? Just covering the basics.

Disconnect the wires going to the breaker and see if it will reset. If it does, the breaker is fine and you have a fault in the circuit and need to find it. If it still trips, you have a faulty breaker.
 
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Old 01-27-14, 07:43 PM
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Since I replaced the old breaker with the new one, I followed the same connection: connected both hot and neutral of the circuit to the breaker as labelled, and connected the pigtail to the neutral bus.

After I disconnect the hot wire from the breaker, the breaker still trip. Sounds like I already broke the new breaker?
 
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Old 01-28-14, 06:47 AM
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What is the key difference between the combination AFCI breaker and the previous one (non-combination)?
The earlier version AFCI breaker protected against a parallel arc fault of hot to ground or hot to neutral. The combination type, now required, protects against both parallel and series arc fault conditions.

The Basics of Arc-Fault Protection | content content from Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine
 
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Old 01-28-14, 08:35 PM
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Thank you all for your responses. I finally called a professional electrician to check tomorrow.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 06:25 PM
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After I disconnect the hot wire from the breaker, the breaker still trip. Sounds like I already broke the new breaker?
With the hot wire disconnected, the breaker should turn on and stay on. If it doesn't, the breaker is bad. It will likely get solved faster calling in a pro. Let us know what they find.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 06:30 PM
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After I disconnect the hot wire from the breaker, the breaker still trip. Sounds like I already broke the new breaker?
Sounds like a warranty issue to me, I'd take it back to where I bought it.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 07:00 PM
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The electrician came today, and took him less than 5 min to find the problem. Actually, I am a little embarrassed to say, there was no problem at all. It is all because I did not properly reset the breaker each time. He showed me that, for AFCI breaker, it trips to middle. I need to set it to Off before setting back to On. He set both AFCI breakers on and everything is fine. Both old breakers work just fine. This $125 lesson taught me to read every detail carefully, and donít assume anything. Anyway, I have learned a great deal about AFCI circuit breaker. Thank you all for the help.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 09:03 PM
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The electrician came today, and took him less than 5 min to find the problem. Actually, I am a little embarrassed to say, there was no problem at all. It is all because I did not properly reset the breaker each time. He showed me that, for AFCI breaker, it trips to middle. I need to set it to Off before setting back to On.
We should be embarrassed. At least, I am. That's true for almost all circuit breakers (not just the AFCI ones) and we didn't think to ask you.
 
  #16  
Old 01-30-14, 06:34 PM
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After I disconnect the hot wire from the breaker, the breaker still trip.
I would say I'm embarrassed, but I'm not. I was mislead by your statements similar to above. Sorry we couldn't be more help. Glad you got it fixed though!
 
  #17  
Old 01-30-14, 08:03 PM
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myhoho: your experience is like one's I've had over the years. I've learned a lot by doing things myself. But every now and then I still fail to take something obvious into account when fixing or building something. Guess it's just part of the process of doing it yourself. Thanks for sharing.
 
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Old 01-30-14, 08:03 PM
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I found this website very helpful. At least, I learned a lot.
 
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Old 01-31-14, 11:18 AM
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After I disconnect the hot wire from the breaker, the breaker still trip.

I would say I'm embarrassed, but I'm not. I was mislead by your statements similar to above
I feel the same way, but wasn't going to mention it. As long as we are on the subject,

I read one posting on this site regarding how to check if the breaker is still good: remove the black wire from the breaker and try to reset the breaker. If it holds, then it is good. I followed this method, but the breaker cannot hold.
I took this to mean the breaker was immediately tripping as it was reset.
 
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