ARC Fault Breakers tripping

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  #1  
Old 06-01-20, 09:04 AM
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ARC Fault Breakers tripping

I have an almost new ADU in my home with its own sub panel. All electrical work was permitted and passed inspection. The tenant has reported increasing breaker trips on the two 20 amp circuits serving the kitchen countertop and possibly on the dedicated 20 amp circuit serving the fridge. Apparently the breakers are doing what they are supposed to do. I have asked him to keep a log of which receptacles are causing the trip and what he has plugged into them. From what he has said it looks like the counter top appliances are few and relatively low amperage.I am also wondering what would cause the refrigerator circuit to trip. The breaker trips also appear random, they do not occur every time an appliance is used. I am going to check the affected receptacles to make sure the connections are good. However, this seems like it may be nuisance trips indicating a bad breaker.

Any suggestions on how to determine where the problem lies?
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Old 06-01-20, 09:40 AM
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What brand panel is it? Some AFCI breakers have dual trip indicators to show whether the trip was due to an overload or arc fault event.
Are the countertop receptacles protected by a GFI receptacle? Or are the breakers CAFI (AFCI + GFCI together)?
Lastly, is the refrigerator rather old? Still unlikely to be a true overload, but could be a contributing factor.
 
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Old 06-01-20, 01:20 PM
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The panel is a Siemens. I have the LED indicator codes so will check it the next time a breaker trips. The countertop receptacles are GFI protected and the breakers are AFCI. The refrigerator is probably 8 years old but has only been used for 2 years. It is a small fridge so the load is pretty small.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 11:03 AM
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Well...the trips are still happening somewhat randomly when counter top appliances are used. The readout from the AFCI breakers shows arc fault. Is there any way I can test the countertop appliances to see if they are the problem?
 
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Old 09-16-20, 01:51 PM
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Although it is possible you have wiring issues; it may be far more likely Siemens has algorithm issues.
I've had the following nuisance trips with AFCI, all series mode. Vacuum cleaner, garage door opener, clothes washer, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher. 5 different circuits. Siemens was not the manufacturer here, but my company has sent me a number of replacement units with improved trip characteristics.
AFCI breakers have been painful for a number of vendors.
 
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Old 09-16-20, 05:46 PM
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I would start by changing the breakers with new AFCI breakers and see if that solves the issue. As others posted, early versions of AFCI devices had some issues with nuisance tripping.
 
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Old 09-17-20, 05:05 PM
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Thanks, I can shift the cables over to other arc fault breakers to test them. The tenant says that the countertop breakers trip more frequently when he is using a burner on the range. This makes no sense at all unless there is some type of 'leakage' between the range circuit and the affected breakers in the panel box. I am not sure how that is even possible but I am going to check breaker connections in the panel and connections within the receptacles as well as trying other breakers.
 
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Old 09-17-20, 05:57 PM
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I can shift the cables over to other arc fault breakers to test them.
Yes, you can as long as they are the same amp rating. However, since they were installed at the same time they were likely manufactured at the same time so that may not tell you anything.

Is the range electric or gas?
 
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Old 09-17-20, 10:03 PM
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All of the breakers are of the same age and brand. None of the arc fault breakers for the lights or general room receptacles have tripped. I wonder if it is just crappy countertop appliances (hot pot, toaster, electric fry pan).

The range is electric.
 
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Old 09-18-20, 04:21 AM
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Moving the affected circuits to other AFCI breakers that seem to be fine would be my first step. Remember though when you do move to another AFCI breaker to bring over the corresponding neutral wire with the hot to the breaker you are connecting the hot wire to. The pigtail from the AFCI breaker can remain where it is connected to the neutral bar. Just be sure you match the hot with the proper neutral.

Wondering if coincidence that the range has anything to do with this event.

The other thing you may want to do is just check the receptacles on the affected circuits and be sure they are connected properly and tightly. If any are back-stabbed move to the screws. Any wires nuts make sure they are tight also.
 
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