New circuit - Eaton Combined AFCI/GFCI Trips when any switch is thrown

Users who are viewing this thread

shelzmike

Member
Messages
64
Reaction score
3
Points
8
Location
Virginia
OK, so I have spent the entire weekend upgrading the last remaining old circuit in my 1943 home. It is comprised of 5 switches for overhead fixtures (details below).

Before I changed this all out, all switches were ungrounded (2 conductor only) and were switch loops. What I did was remove every bit of the cloth wire and rewired all switches as a normal switch leg and not a switch loop.

I have the following:

3 switches that are powering a single light fixture. (Meaning, a 1 to 1 switch to fixture leg).

2 switches that are the dual type that are connected to a ceiling fan light combo. 1 switch for fan, 1 for the light.

From the panel, I have a line running to a J-Box that has a joint that provides the supply to 2 of the 5 switches directly and then another line that goes up into the attic to another J-Box that then provides the joints for the remaining 3 switches.

14/2 (except for the rooms where the ceiling fans are, where I am providing the switch leg with a 14/3 of course).

All switches have the common hot on one side and the fixture hot on the other. Neutrals are combined in the boxes and connected at the fixtures. Grounds are all bonded to the metal boxes and fixture boxes as well as connected together as required (except one that is in a plastic old work box due to size restraints).

Everything in the circuit is straightforward. I am super careful pulling wire and inspecting to ensure nothing is nicked. I am always pretty OCD about my electrical work and everything is connected with appropriate size wire nuts (though I do use push in connectors for my grounds in some cases, but never for hots or neutrals).

In the LC panel, I am using an Eaton AFCI/GFCI combined BRN115A1CS. 15a, single pole. I have never used one of these before (never used a GFCI nor an AFCI breaker to be perfectly honest, but figured now is as good a time as any to start).

I can turn the breaker on and it stays on. Tests appropriately. However, whenever I flip on ANY of these switches, it trips immediately. LED code is 5 blinks which is Ground Fault/ or Grounded Neutral.

"Current has found an alternative path to ground, or the neutral and ground are in contact downstream of the breaker"

I am baffled at this point since I surely don't think anything I wired would be in this state (seriously, I am VERY meticulous).

Now, here is the big question that may be the simple answer and shows my ignorance of requirements for GFCI breakers - to use a GFCI breaker, does the neutral and ground have to be on separate bus bars? Up until now, in my main (and since it is my main), I have bonded neutral and ground bus bars. This seems, though, that this would be upstream, correct?

Of course, I will start to go back through all of my switches and fixtures, but is there anything that I have stated that would indicate a problem right off the bat? Thanks!
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
34,607
Reaction score
3,511
Points
113
Location
IL
Did you run independent neutrals from each circuit to the neutral on the breaker?

If you isolate the wires by pulling them off of the breaker, do you get infinite ohms on the wires to ground?
 

shelzmike

Member
Messages
64
Reaction score
3
Points
8
Location
Virginia
Yes, absolutely ran independent neutrals from each switch and fixture leg to the breaker. I will perform the test you suggest, but to be clear, you mean remove the hot from the breaker and test from that to ground and then do the same for the neutral to ground?
 

shelzmike

Member
Messages
64
Reaction score
3
Points
8
Location
Virginia
Update, no short indicated - no infinite ohms on either wire. I am getting changing resistance readings when testing.

EDIT: It should be stated that this was with all of the switches turned off. Should I do the same test with the switches in the on position?
 

Reach4

Well-Known Member
Messages
34,607
Reaction score
3,511
Points
113
Location
IL
Yes, absolutely ran independent neutrals from each switch and fixture leg to the breaker. I will perform the test you suggest, but to be clear, you mean remove the hot from the breaker and test from that to ground and then do the same for the neutral to ground?
Remove both before testing resistance.

Update, no short indicated - no infinite ohms on either wire. I am getting changing resistance readings when testing.
Are you saying that the ohms show as something like 10 Megohm to ground, and jumping around?

EDIT: It should be stated that this was with all of the switches turned off. Should I do the same test with the switches in the on position?
You would do that next, if you had infinity with switches open, or at least greater than 10 Megohm. 100,000 Ohms (0.1 Megohm) may not trip the breaker, but it would show something going on.

What kind of resistance to ground are you seeing, or is the digital meter jumping around so much that it is not readable?
 

shelzmike

Member
Messages
64
Reaction score
3
Points
8
Location
Virginia
Found it.

After about 30 minutes of troubleshooting, I found the problem. It is amazing how sensitive the breakers are. This 1/16" exposed neutral from the push in connector wasn't touching the metal box, but was really close to it, maybe 1/32"-1/16" away and it was causing it to trip. Ironically, I hardly ever use these push in connectors, as mentioned, except for grounds in some cases and this happened to be the ONLY non-ground joint that I used a push connector in. I had pushed it into the connector and then thought, wait, I don't want to use that on the neutral, but had already pushed it in so figured one wouldn't hurt. Wrong. Removed from the push in and put it under a nut and problem has been solved.

H6jogyS.jpg
 

curiousv

Member
Messages
131
Reaction score
0
Points
16
Location
Tacoma WA
Found it.

After about 30 minutes of troubleshooting, I found the problem. It is amazing how sensitive the breakers are. This 1/16" exposed neutral from the push in connector wasn't touching the metal box, but was really close to it, maybe 1/32"-1/16" away and it was causing it to trip. Ironically, I hardly ever use these push in connectors, as mentioned, except for grounds in some cases and this happened to be the ONLY non-ground joint that I used a push connector in. I had pushed it into the connector and then thought, wait, I don't want to use that on the neutral, but had already pushed it in so figured one wouldn't hurt. Wrong. Removed from the push in and put it under a nut and problem has been solved.

H6jogyS.jpg
Ok so you still have 2 conductor ungrounded wiring in the house?
Do these dual fn breakers work in 2 conductors cable like you mentioned?
I know GFCI outlet works but not sure about this dual function breaker
 

Afjes

New Member
Messages
29
Reaction score
15
Points
3
Location
Northeast PA
Ok so you still have 2 conductor ungrounded wiring in the house?
Do these dual fn breakers work in 2 conductors cable like you mentioned?
I know GFCI outlet works but not sure about this dual function breaker
The GFCI portion of a dual function aFCI/GFCI breaker will work just the same as a GFCI receptacle even if the circuit has no ground.
 

curiousv

Member
Messages
131
Reaction score
0
Points
16
Location
Tacoma WA
Found it.

After about 30 minutes of troubleshooting, I found the problem. It is amazing how sensitive the breakers are. This 1/16" exposed neutral from the push in connector wasn't touching the metal box, but was really close to it, maybe 1/32"-1/16" away and it was causing it to trip. Ironically, I hardly ever use these push in connectors, as mentioned, except for grounds in some cases and this happened to be the ONLY non-ground joint that I used a push connector in. I had pushed it into the connector and then thought, wait, I don't want to use that on the neutral, but had already pushed it in so figured one wouldn't hurt. Wrong. Removed from the push in and put it under a nut and problem has been solved.

H6jogyS.jpg
Excellent point
 
Top
Hey, wait a minute.

This is awkward, but...

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. We get it, but (1) terrylove.com can't live without ads, and (2) ad blockers can cause issues with videos and comments. If you'd like to support the site, please allow ads.

If any particular ad is your REASON for blocking ads, please let us know. We might be able to do something about it. Thanks.
I've Disabled AdBlock    No Thanks