AFCI breakers tripping every 7 days

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by hmk123, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    I'm betting on a problem on the common leg -- nothing to do with the two circuits.
  2. hmk123

    hmk123 New Member

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    I agree. Unfortunately I don't know much about that. Where do I learn about the common leg? I guess I will google it :) And what could cause that?
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Most of what you need to know has been previously posted in this thread. Summarizing everything -- all the 120V circuits in your house are divided between 2 "legs"; both of your problem breakers are connected to the same leg; I, for one (maybe the only one), suspect that a real arc fault is occuring on this leg somewhere else in the house, and your breakers are reacting to it.
  4. cattledog

    cattledog New Member

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    Location:
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    Mikey--

    If the problem is somewhere else in the house and not on the two specific circuits which fault, how can the problem occur exactly seven days after the breakers are reset? You may be right, but what other circuits on that line would know when the breakers are reset?

    Here's how I understand the problem statement. If, for example, he leaves the breakers off for two days after they trip, and then resets them, they will trip again after the same period of time as they would have if he reset them immediately after the fault. It is a fixed time from the reset, and not a fixed time in relationship to an external clock, or the first incident.
  5. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    I agree, and thought that originally, but somewhere along the line I got the idea that the problem occured on Sunday night, no matter when they were reset. Rereading the thread, I'm back to thinking it's 7 days --to the minute -- after they're reset. What happens, I wonder, if you reset breaker A at one time, and Breaker B 24 hours later?
  6. D.Smith

    D.Smith New Member

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    Georgia
    I think he tried that and both breakers to the t tripped.
  7. hmk123

    hmk123 New Member

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    Yes, it is on the seventh day. So it's always one day less in the week. If it happens on a Sunday, next week it is a Saturday (but when I reset during that week, it will "wait" seven days again). Basically exactly when the week is over. I will reset one today. Actually, was thinking of swapping one for a regular breaker. I am now wondering, too, if it is somewhere else in the house that trips them. But it would mean, that resetting the breakers does something to the offsetting device. Also, in the old part of the house we have Sqaure D AFCI breakers for the bedrooms, too, and they never trip. And there is a third AFCI in the new panel for the new bathroom (actually needs to be swapped for a GFCI; the contractor made a mistake) and that one never trips either.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2008
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    What I'm asking is if he resets breaker A at 8PM and breaker B at 9PM, do they trip the next time at 8PM or 9PM?
  9. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Another test

    This from a recent article posted by BillyBob in http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22184:

    If you find an AFCI is tripping, consider troubleshooting by replacing it with a GFCI to understand if the AFCI is protecting the circuit due to a ground fault or an arcing fault. If the GFCI does not trip, then you may have an arcing condition being detected by the AFCI.

    Understanding the Combination AFCI Expansion in NEC-2008...
    http://www.iaei.org/subscriber/magaz..._a/unseld.html
  10. hmk123

    hmk123 New Member

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    It is getting even stranger. 8 days ago (not yesterday but the Sunday before) we changed out all 3 breakers. The 2 AFCIs for the bedroom were changed back from 20Amp to 15Amp (what they originally were). Actually one of them was switched to a regular breaker (the one for the recepticles). The ones for the lights is still AFCI. In-between those two breakers was the one for the bathroom. It was also AFCI but was supposed to be GFCI. So we corrected that. So two days ago the AFCI should have tripped again, But it did not. I kind of doubt that the cause for it was changing the other bedroom break to a regular one since one of the tests was to turn that breaker off (when it was still AFCI) and the other AFCI still tripped. So it seems that changing the bathroom AFCI breaker to GFCI did the trick. Note though that that one never tripped. It sits between the recepticle and light breakers for the bedroom (in the panel). I guess the next test is to switch the regular one now back to AFCI and see what happens.
  11. cattledog

    cattledog New Member

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    Location:
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    What happened this week after the switch back. Inquiring minds want to know ;-)
  12. hcbad

    hcbad New Member

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    I am having the same problem.

    Has anyone figured out what a common cause might be? I just built a new home and did the electrical myself (I am not an electrician). I have 3 afci breakers for 3 bedrooms and all 3 trip every 7 days, losing a day each week (first Sunday, then Saturday, then Friday, now today, Thursday). I don't have a GFCI breaker problem like the first guy so PLEASE HELP!!!!!
  13. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Oh, no, not again, Mr Bill!

    Do they trip independently, or all together?
  14. Johnny C

    Johnny C Electrician

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    Location:
    Mass. & now Virginia Beach, VA
    AFCI tripping

    Reading your first posting of the problem, you mention that a small refrigerator is plugged into one of the AFCI protected outlets. Most modern refrigerators have a timed cyle that energizes electric heaters to defrost the freezer coils. The electric heaters usually have leakage current that may add to other leakage currents already on the circuit and cause the breaker to trip. Unplug the refrigerator and use a different circuit and see what happens.
  15. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

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    I've had this debate before

    The AFCIs have to detect the difference between "good" arcs and "bad" arcs. I doubt they can do that with 100% certainty.

    The "test" button only gooses a µP input; not much of a test.

    You have some chance of testing GFIs for valid/invalid trips with commonly available electrical stuff; this gadget cannot be checked without a lab full of equipment.

    BTW, motors draw big arcs when the switch controlling them opens, so these are probably candidates for the cause of AFCIs tripping. Usually the motor's internal switch or relay contacts have arc suppression networks (MOVs, capacitors, cap/resistor networks) across them. Maybe this network wears out with time.

    You could also try
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q="square d" afci patent&aq=f&oq=
    These new devices might solve some of the problems that the current crop of AFCIs "can't possibly have."
    :)

    Nobody is going to sue over a nuisance tripping AFCI and nobody will be killed by one either, so without the threat of a wrongful death lawsuit, all the manufacturers of all these safety devices, appliances, connecting cable, "poor installation", whatever, can play hot potato indefinitely.
    It must be, therefore, the fault of the buyer!

    BTW, if a manufacturer tells you something, and you want to be hung up on, ask for what they just said, in writing, over the signature of a company principal.
    One manu. guy could hear that I was typing what he was saying, while he was saying it, and he actually told me to stop typing. Note that he wasn't asking, he was telling!
    This guy worked for one of the companies that is now asking for bailout money. No, I won't say which one.

    Is this a great country, or what???
    :)
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  16. JohnGalt

    JohnGalt New Member

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    1
    I've had the same problem since June (weekly tripping of an AFCI circuit with no load on it). I tried all sorts of things, and then finally swapped the breaker from lights to another circuit (outlets) that had an AFCI that never tripped. After a week, the old breaker on the outlet circuit tripped. My conclusion is the breaker is bad.

    I took it to the local home improvement store to look at what kind of warranty or replacement I could get, and I saw a notice for their stockers to remove the Square-D breakers with date codes 0810 to 0820 (the date is on the breaker next to the handle). Of course mine has a date code 0815. I'll be sending an e-mail to Schneiders to see what I should do with the breaker.

    Hope this helps...
  17. hangup

    hangup New Member

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    1
    two 0814s here :(

    JohnGalt,

    I'm having the same issue with two 0814s in the panel.
    Thanks a lot for the info! I am really glad I found this thread and your message in particular.

    Have you replaced these? If so, has it resolved the nuisance tripping problem?

    I have two with date codes 0814 and both trip at the same time every once in a while. I haven't kept a log up yet so I don't know if it's exactly every 7 days or not.
  18. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

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    689
    And on the seveth day, God tripped the AFCI so he could get some rest.
  19. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

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    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    Turns out if you're near a radio station you may need RF filters that the AFCI manuf. will supply.
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