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?
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.
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.
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.,
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
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
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 ;-)
"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.
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.
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?
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?
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