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#154557 10/13/06 09:42 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 246
My son was just troubleshooting an AFCI bedroom circuit, in a remodel that he did not rewire. Every time a floorlamp was plugged in, the AFCI tripped. The homeowner even tried a different lamp, but still would trip.

My son, correctly, it turns out, tried looking at the room's light fixture first, and as soon as he took the canopy off, he saw the problem. The allthread rod was turned up so much inside of the fixture that it had scraped off the insulation.

I'm not sure which wire was in contact, but in this case, the AFCI did indeed work.

Rick Miell

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#154558 10/15/06 10:47 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,766
Likes: 13
The neutral was grounded and as soon as there was some load on the circuit part of that load current leaked out the ground. The 30ma ground fault protection trips the AFCI

Greg Fretwell
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 46
I think the AFCI requirement is squarely the blame of those of us with longer experience and with responsibilities as trainers and teachers of the newbies; by failing to emphasize the most basic and critical skill development - requiring the newbies to make absolutely sure that a (tight) really really firm connection is made at all junctions and terminations. (I went behind a crew with a three year "leadman" and helper[s] of unknown experience to hang lights and hot check-the rest of the devices had ben installed; everything checked fine at first - and then my helper started calling my attention to failing items I had already tested. on pulling the devices out wire-nuts would fly everywhere from lousy connections flying apart - we had to re-make-up the entire house -this was new work executed by employees who believed themselves to be electricians)

Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,335
I agree with you Samurai to a point. In the constant envioronment of hurry up and get it done, sloppy work preveils. These new rules is just a band aid fix for that.

Although I am personally against the pending AFCI rules, it was only going to be a matter of time just because our society is that way.

I have replaced many burnt out receptacles and wirenuts and connections that an AFCI would have likely caught. The posting about the lamp tripping the AFCI was an easy fix. Imagine for a moment that you were called in to T/S an old wiring system that had an AFCI tripping and it was not due to a light fixture or something being plugged in. It would be like trying to find a needle in a pile of needles. With no as-builts and no way of nowing how it was wired and rewired of the last thirty years, it will not be an easy fix.

AFCI are to prevent fires with is a life and death matter and I am alright with that. I feel that it should be the home owner's decision with finacial support from the insurance and the home financing industry.

Although I preach until I am blue in the face to homeowners about how GFCI are there to protect, 99.9% of the complaints I get about them are they are defective that turns out that they are actually doing their job. It is the device they are plugging in that is a defective. If society in general can not grasp the basics about GFCI, how will they comprehend the complexity of AFCI.

As an electrician, think how are you going to explain to a customer that you billed them for several several hours of having them moving furniture, bookshevlves, and personal property so you can pull out receptacles to inspect; keeping in mind that if you disassemble the device, you must re-install it to meet today's code and you still can not be certain that you fixed the problem? Just because the breaker did not trip, does not neccesary mean that it was properly fixed.

Let's say it was tripping because of a loose connection causing some arcing within a wire nut. You spent hours pulling out devices and checking all the connections. Did you just re-tightening every thing or did you pull every connection apart to inspect the connections to ensure they are not burnt and covered in carbon? How many old connections that you came across that are crimped and taped or were a real pain in the kiester to get to because the original installer wanted to save 2" of wire? How will you warranty your work?

That formally loose connection is now cover in carbon may no longer carry the ampacity of the circuit. If this is the case, what will happen next? It will overheat and we all know where this can lead.

Granted my example is worst case scenero, however it is not all that unrealistic. Think of all the houses you have been in and if AFCI's were required just 10 years ago, how difficult would it been to T/S an AFCI tripping? Just look at your own home if you had to T/S one.

What will the homeowner do when he can not reset the breaker or do not want to pay out hundreds of dollars for an electrician? Extension cords and we all know how safe they are.

Bean counting may seem to be putting a price on someone's head. If you start running the numbers on the finacial impact of the changes in relation of the potential numbers of lives that would be saved, the money could be better spent on finding a cure for cancer. That will save more lives.

I understand the drive behind the proposed changes. Part of fire departments and safety orginziations mission is reduce fires and the loss of life. I feel that that it short term fix that will be a bigger finacial drain in the future. I feel that better technology and standards would reduce the numbers of fires without the finacial impact. For example, eliminate the use of stab-in connectors would be a big step.

Improved education in not only how to do a good splice/connections, but how to route wires so you will not have the need to put 50 wires under one wire nut and the boxes are not over filled.

When I plan a wiring project, I lay it out to keep the spices to a minimum. Each splice is a potential fire hazard down the road. after splicing or making a connection, I closely inspect my work to ensure it's a quality connection.

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 214
sparkyinak, an AFCI will not trip due to arcing in a wirenut, it may not even respond to arcing between a hot and a neutral, a couple days ago I was sent to a house to install a couple devices (they wanted a couple recepticles changed to diferent styles, and we bought one to few smoke detectors) well I was working on a smoke detector, conected to an AFCI circuit in a bedroom, (the smoke was not actually in the bedroom) so I killed the breaker that the boss thought fed it, and then I stuck my induction pen in the box to double check, well turns out I didn't double check well enough (learned to triple check after the wires are pulled out) and I stripped the neutral, and while I was stripping the hot KRACK!-POW! big blue arc, partially melted strippers, blackened copper etc. I then held my induction pen up to the wires once more, and it read hot, so I went to the basement, killed all the AFCI's and went back up, yup, they were dead now, and I'm down a pair of strippers, not to mention I've lost some faith in AFCI's, even in a "parallel fault" the exact type they're supposed to detect!

We can legislate and legislate, but electrical work will always be able to cause fires and kill people, and it's personal responsability that needs to be emphasised, not every new, stupid, expensive gadget, in 20 years it'll cost tweice as musch to wire a house, and there'll be, maybe, a couple dosen less house fires a year. Ridiculous.


Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
I have replaced many burnt out receptacles and wirenuts and connections that an AFCI would have likely caught.

AFCIs, even the new "combination type", do not directly connect that type of fault. They will only detect that type of problem when the fault causes enough damage to make a ground fault or parallel arcing fault.

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 100
JJM Offline
FYI: I've had brand new, out of the box TVSS receptacles cause AFCI breakers to trip. So if you have an AFCI breaker tripping on a brand new installation with nothing plugged in, suspect the TVSS receptacles (and I suppose GFCI receptacles might not be immune either).

Needless to say, until we discovered the problem, this was a REALLY vexing ordeal... bringing out the meggar, undoing all the connections, testing each cable run by run, only to find out in the end that two TVSS receptacles were causing the problem. No arcing in the receptacles, the green lights were on, and the grounds were good. Replaced the two new TVSS receptacles with other new ones and the problem went away.

And I'm supposed to put these things on smoke circuits if they cover bedrooms? Not in MY house.

Seems AFCI's are pretty effective at tripping when I use a saw or drill - trips right away - but when there is actual dangerous arcing as many of our shared experiences here seem to indicate, the AFCI just keeps the pretty blue sparkling going.


Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 812
I agree with you Samurai to a point. In the constant environment of hurry up and get it done, sloppy work prevails. These new rules is just a band aid fix for that.

I agree with both (all) of you, and I'm not even an electrician! (Or apprentice for that matter.)

These (50+ year old) Levittown (tract) houses are wired better than any new Toll Brothers box.

Ian A.

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