Arc-fault breaker trips

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A family member's house was completely rewired in 2011 and has arc-fault breakers for the bedrooms. One of those breakers will not hold in at all, even with nothing plugged into any of the outlets.
Is substituting a replacement breaker the most appropriate first step, or is there something else to try first?
Perce
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On 12/22/15 4:39 PM, Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

Swapping breakers with a different circuit might be a first step.
Turn off both breakers ( and/or main breaker), swap the 2 black wires. See if problem follows the wire/circuit, or the breaker.
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Better swap the white wires too or you will have 2 bad circuits ;-)
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On 12/22/15 5:57 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

OOPS ! Forgot that AFCIs switch/break the Neutral/white also. :-(
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On Tue, 22 Dec 2015 16:39:41 -0500, "Percival P. Cassidy"

Swapping with a working one may be the easiest first step.
Then I would use a meter to verify there is no continuity between the white and black wires, disconnected from the breaker to ground.
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On 12/22/15 5:26 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Before testing with meter, be sure to disconnect any loads plugged into the circuit at outlets, and any light switches to off position.
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There still be no continuity to ground, with everything on. That is what trips the GFP portion of an AFCI. Anything less than about 4k ohms total will do it. (30ma)
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The AFCI is probably just doing its job. Swapping a new AFCI is a simple s tep, but you will probably still have the same problem. In addition to off ering arc fault protection, the AFCI also has 30ma ground fault protection.
I had an AFCI problem this past summer in a basement wired by the the homeo wners. In addition to multiple code violations, they used barb wire staple s on the wiring instead of cable staples. One circuit I could not clear. I disconnected all of the wiring from devices and splices and pulled out as many staples as I could, but it still would not clear. I started cutting the line back until it cleared about 6' from the main electrical panel. I refed the circuit from that 6' mark and prayed. The AFCI held and continue to stay on with everything reconnected.
When an AFCI trips it blinks a number of times to indicate what caused it t o trip. Do you have the AFCI instructions to interpret the blinks?
I think that you need to open up the outlets, lights, and switches on that particular circuit and check for loose connections as your first step in tr oubleshooting this problem.
John Grabowski http://www.MrElectrician.TV
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On 12/22/2015 08:17 PM, John G wrote:

I haven't yet set eyes on the breaker in question: I've seen only a cell-phone photograph of it. It's a CH breaker with a "Test" button but no indicator light. Looking on line, I see some CH AFCI breakers that appear to have an indicator light and some that do not.
I am hoping I can set up a time to go there tomorrow and see what I can find out. I'll start by disconnecting the black from the breaker and see whether it still refuses to hold in.
Perce
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On Tue, 22 Dec 2015 21:00:20 -0500, "Percival P. Cassidy"

You can trip an AFCI on a sub panel, even with no load on that circuit and the black wire disconnected if you have a ground/neutral fault. (you are still seeing the voltage drop on the feeder)
In John's example, I bet he would have seen continuity between one of those conductor and ground. If you are not sensing an over current, it is usually the neutral. If you can see this on a meter, your trouble shooting is easier than just easter egging random boxes and ripping out walls.,
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ult

,

ple step, but you will probably still have the same problem. In addition t o offering arc fault protection, the AFCI also has 30ma ground fault protec tion.

homeowners. In addition to multiple code violations, they used barb wire s taples on the wiring instead of cable staples. One circuit I could not cle ar. I disconnected all of the wiring from devices and splices and pulled o ut as many staples as I could, but it still would not clear. I started cut ting the line back until it cleared about 6' from the main electrical panel . I refed the circuit from that 6' mark and prayed. The AFCI held and con tinue to stay on with everything reconnected.

it to trip. Do you have the AFCI instructions to interpret the blinks?

that particular circuit and check for loose connections as your first step in troubleshooting this problem.




GFRE that was the odd thing. I did check continuity with my Fluke VOM and there was nothing to indicate a short between conductors. The blinking ind icator light for that particular breaker identified a ground fault so I exp ected to see even the slightest bit of leakage, but there was nothing. In this particular instance, the breaker did not trip immediately. Initially it would trip after several minutes. When I started disconnecting everythi ng the time to trip became longer. It wasn't until I replaced a 25' sectio n of the circuit wire that the problem went away. I looked closely at the old removed wire and could not see anything wrong.
I have nothing to support this, but I think that the use of barb wire stapl es, which had a coarse galvanized finished surface played a part in this di lemma.
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On Wed, 23 Dec 2015 04:47:03 -0800 (PST), John G

I am surprised you would not see some continuity between ground and the black or white wire.
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On 12/22/2015 09:00 PM, I wrote:

And I just noticed that in the photograph his breakers have "PWD" on the handle whereas ours have "SWD". What's the significance of that?
Perce
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On Tue, 22 Dec 2015 21:36:13 -0500, "Percival P. Cassidy"

SWD is switching duty (you can use it like a switch) Not sure about PWD
Here is the marking guide, maybe you will have better luck ;-)
http://ul.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/MoldedCaseCircuitBreakersMG.pdf
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On 12/22/2015 8:36 PM, Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

"SWD" on a breaker just basically means that it is used as a switch. PWD normally stands for "pulse-width-discriminator circuit" but I have no idea what exactly it means when seen on a circuit breaker.
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On 12/22/2015 09:36 PM, Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

Correction: he didn't send me the cell-phone picture, but I thought it looked like "PWD" when he showed it to me. In fact it was "SWD" after I cleaned off the dirt, the same as ours.
First surprise when I got there is that there is no Main Breaker: The feed from the meter goes directly to the bus bars with no intervening breaker -- so I had to do everything in a "hot" box.
The breaker tripped even with the black disconnected, so I replaced it -- after checking, with everything unplugged, the resistance of the circuit it had been feeding: 10MegOhms. All is now well, and the new breaker has both a red "Tripped" flag and an LED indicator.
Next to the panel was a duplex GFCI outlet showing a red indicator light, but although it would neither reset nor trip using the Test button it was "live," so I replaced that as well.
Perce
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Thanks for the update. I am surprised that the problem was the AFCI breaker. I will keep that in mind.
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On 12/23/2015 05:12 PM, John G wrote:

But how common is it for there to be no "main switch," as is the case with this installation: feed directly from the meter to the bus bars with no switch or main breaker to enable safer working in the panel?
Perce
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On Friday, December 25, 2015 at 12:17:37 PM UTC-5, Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

Not common at all. It's a code violation, unless there are only 6 breakers in that panel, in which case they can serve as the disconnect. Are you sure there was no disconnect near the meter?
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On 12/25/2015 12:34 PM, trader_4 wrote:

There were 10 or 12 breakers. I saw no sign of any other breaker. And there was only one combined ground/neutral bar in the panel -- white and bare wires to the same bar -- so it couldn't count as a sub-panel.
Is it possible that it was OK when the house was wired originally -- long ago -- (or rewired on an earlier occasion) and the only rewiring that was done in 2011 was from the panel on -- retaining the original panel?
Perce
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