Arc Fault problems.

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Old 07-21-16, 05:03 PM
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Arc Fault problems.

Hello all. My home has developed what appears to be a ground fault. Location and circuit load - Master bath lighting and exhaust fans, master bedroom fan/light combo, and living room fan/light combo, (no wall outlets). Brief history - Two months ago the breaker would trip once a month, we thought it was just over load. Then it would trip when any switch was operated. I thought it was just an old or weak breaker, so I replaced it. Still had the same problem. I removed all the switch from the wall (5) and the breaker still trips itself.

I am asking for help in locating where and why this happened. The house has not been remolded, no bad weather, and nothing has changed in the house. The problem went from intermittent to permanent.

Please help with any suggestion of what to do next.

Thank you.

J
 

Last edited by pcboss; 07-22-16 at 08:27 AM. Reason: changed title, was Ground Fault
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Old 07-21-16, 05:53 PM
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To isolate the problem you need to remove all equipment and fixtures from the circuit and test. If it no longer trips you need to add back each piece of equipment one at a time till the circuit trips. In cases such as switches after removal you need to bypass by connecting the switch wires together.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 07-22-16 at 09:34 AM. Reason: Re read the question.
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Old 07-21-16, 09:22 PM
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Yeah.... a lot of motors if on a GFI. There's a good chance of a neutral to ground leak. That would cause the GFI to trip even if the device wasn't running.

Either way.... with or without a GFI.... Ray's method is probably the best way to find the problem.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 04:28 AM
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If this is home is 2002 or newer it is likely an AFCI breaker.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 05:51 AM
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You could have a overcurrent or short (possibly intermittent) condition. Both require some knowledge of electrical troubleshooting.
Open each electrical box for the switches and fan/lights and make sure all screw connections are tight and wires in wire nuts are secure. If all are OK and problem still exists, buy or rent a AC ammeter (at least 30 A) to check for overcurrent condition. Place AC ammeter in series with the offending breaker. With all switches OFF, ammeter should read 0 A. With all three switches ON, the AC ammeter is indicating the RMS amps. The value should be less than the breaker amp rating. If not , insure the wire size on the breaker is large enough for the next higher rated breaker and replace breaker.
If the AC ammeter does not read 0A with all three switches OFF, there is a short somewhere in the AC source wiring and troubleshooting to isolate the source of the short will be required.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 08:02 AM
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No. The GFCI's are on a different circuit for all the 110 outlets.

And thank you for the reply. I will start removing all the equipment.

I thought that by removing the switches it would have automatically taken the equipment out of the circuit back to breaker. Is this not true. The living room fan/light combo has always had problems not working properly! As well I do not understand why it on this (master bath/bedroom) circuit
 
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Old 07-22-16, 08:12 AM
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Correct, it is an AFCI breaker
 
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Old 07-22-16, 08:17 AM
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I don't believe my typical multi-meter is rated for 30amps, so I will get a new one that is.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 08:25 AM
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It does not sound like you need to check for overloads.I suspect there is a loose connection, possibly at the breaker.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 08:39 AM
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Before I start to dismantle the house I did a quick continuity check at one of the switches. I get continuity between ground and both the hot and neutral wires. When they built they sprayed the rooms it made all the wires white, but after get the paint off they are all black which I am not familiar with as typical romex.

Any ideas?
 
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Old 07-22-16, 08:43 AM
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Thank you pcboss, I will get back into the breaker box, check, and even swap out the breaker again with one that is currently working.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 09:03 AM
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You have fan problems I would check connections there first.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 09:21 AM
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Already pulled the connection on one fan. Going to take the next one apart.

I just got done double checking the breaker box, swapped the breakers, etc. All good, except 1.8 ohms common to ground. Going to go check the other fan.

Thank you all, I will report back.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 11:12 AM
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It was in the bedroom ceiling fan lighting short.

Thank you all for your help.

J
 
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Old 07-22-16, 11:58 AM
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Glad you got it. Thanks for letting us know the outcome.
 
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