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    AFCI/GFCI Breaker Trip

    NOTE: This is not a DIY post. It’s a technical question concerning how a breaker works.

    A recent kitchen remodel included replacing a half dozen or so breakers with combination AFCI/GFCI breakers. That was four months ago. Last week one of them tripped. It powers the fridge, and I don’t know if it powers any other loads. Later the same day, it tripped again. It has not tripped since.

    Question: Is there any way to tell, from looking at the tripped breaker, whether it tripped because of an arc or because of a ground fault?

    The fridge is only about five years old, and I would doubt it could be the cause. The remodel project took all kitchen walls and the ceiling down to studs, and included a 100% rewire of all kitchen circuits. So I would also doubt that bad wiring could be the cause.

    If this breaker trips again, I would like to get an idea of what I am dealing with, before I call the electrician who did the remodel. He lives over an hour from my house, and I don’t look forward to his trip charge. I should like to think we're still under warrantee. But this might not be related to the remodel, other than the new breaker type.

    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2017 NEC unless otherwise noted.

    #2
    What brand breaker?

    I believe at one time you said you had Sq D Homeline. To diagnose one of those you reset the breaker, hold the breaker on, push the test button, if it trips in a micro second it's a ground fault, if it takes a little bit more time it's tripping on arc function.

    Siemans has an trip window. GE has nothing.

    I am doubtful of the self diagnosis feature and I am doubtful of AFCI technology so my method is to swap the breaker with a single purpose GFCI. If the breaker holds it's a nuisance trip. I have found that AFCIs will nuisance trip randomly with loads that have electronic components and your five year old fridge most certainly has those.
    If Billy Idol is on your playlist go reevaluate your life.

    Comment


      #3
      I was going to suggest ripping out those AFCI/GFCI breakers for the kitchen and replacing them with GFCI outlets (I'd install one with an audible alarm for the refrigerator, although I believe GFCI are still not required for a dedicated refrigerator outlet in a residential kitchen).

      I didn't realize that AFCI devices are now required in kitchens (as of the 2014 code cycle). WTH!?! Those industry lobbyists are working overtime.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Jon456 View Post
        I was going to suggest ripping out those AFCI/GFCI breakers for the kitchen and replacing them with GFCI outlets (I'd install one with an audible alarm for the refrigerator, although I believe GFCI are still not required for a dedicated refrigerator outlet in a residential kitchen).

        I didn't realize that AFCI devices are now required in kitchens (as of the 2014 code cycle). WTH!?! Those industry lobbyists are working overtime.
        gfci would be required if the refrigerator receptacle outlet is with in 6’ of sink regardless if it’s dedicated or not.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by mopowr steve View Post
          gfci would be required if the refrigerator receptacle outlet is with in 6’ of sink regardless if it’s dedicated or not.
          I believe that is only true if the outlet is "accessible" (like over the countertop next to the refrigerator). I do not think an outlet located behind the refrigerator is considered "accessible."

          Comment


            #6
            For what it's worth.
            Two weeks ago I was called to troubleshoot a circuit that was in a 3 year old kitchen. It feed a viking free standing gas stove/ oven and a moderately sized exhaust hood.
            1). It was on a dual function Siemens cb.120/240v single phase service.
            2). It tripped on AFCI.
            3). It tripped 30 sec to 1min after oven was set to bake (every time).
            4). Removed hood from circuit with the same outcome.
            5). Installed brand new AFCI only cb (because that was all that is required, not within 6' of sink).still tripped
            I was ready to tell him to call the appliance repair man.
            6). Used an extension cord and plugged into a counter top circuit (it didn't trip, and was on opposite "phase".
            7). I swapped to the CB to the opposite phase ( it didn't trip either).
            Nothing unusual about the service, balanced loads, equal voltage on both "phases", everything tight.
            But that seemed to work (for now) go figure..

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Knuckle Dragger View Post
              For what it's worth.
              Two weeks ago I was called to troubleshoot a circuit that was in a 3 year old kitchen. It feed a viking free standing gas stove/ oven and a moderately sized exhaust hood.
              1). It was on a dual function Siemens cb.120/240v single phase service.
              2). It tripped on AFCI.
              3). It tripped 30 sec to 1min after oven was set to bake (every time).
              4). Removed hood from circuit with the same outcome.
              5). Installed brand new AFCI only cb (because that was all that is required, not within 6' of sink).still tripped
              I was ready to tell him to call the appliance repair man.
              6). Used an extension cord and plugged into a counter top circuit (it didn't trip, and was on opposite "phase".
              7). I swapped to the CB to the opposite phase ( it didn't trip either).
              Nothing unusual about the service, balanced loads, equal voltage on both "phases", everything tight.
              But that seemed to work (for now) go figure..
              That was very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

              Were there other AFCI's on the phase that seemed to be causing the tripping? That really is wild.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Knuckle Dragger View Post
                For what it's worth.
                Two weeks ago I was called to troubleshoot a circuit that was in a 3 year old kitchen. It feed a viking free standing gas stove/ oven and a moderately sized exhaust hood.
                1). It was on a dual function Siemens cb.120/240v single phase service.
                2). It tripped on AFCI.
                3). It tripped 30 sec to 1min after oven was set to bake (every time).
                4). Removed hood from circuit with the same outcome.
                5). Installed brand new AFCI only cb (because that was all that is required, not within 6' of sink).still tripped
                I was ready to tell him to call the appliance repair man.
                6). Used an extension cord and plugged into a counter top circuit (it didn't trip, and was on opposite "phase".
                7). I swapped to the CB to the opposite phase ( it didn't trip either).
                Nothing unusual about the service, balanced loads, equal voltage on both "phases", everything tight.
                But that seemed to work (for now) go figure..
                Wow! Magic! That’s how they work anyway so, what the heck.
                Tom
                TBLO

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by oldsparky52 View Post
                  That was very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

                  Were there other AFCI's on the phase that seemed to be causing the tripping? That really is wild.
                  Talk about posting too soon>
                  I just now received a call from that same customer.... the breaker tripped.
                  I told him to contact the appliance guy. Now go figure

                  I will check into the where the other AFCI's are located in the panel when I go back there.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Knuckle Dragger View Post
                    Talk about posting too soon>
                    I just now received a call from that same customer.... the breaker tripped.
                    I told him to contact the appliance guy. Now go figure

                    I will check into the where the other AFCI's are located in the panel when I go back there.
                    So what do you guys do with these types of calls? What happens if the equipment guy says it's not their problem? Or does that not happen much?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Knuckle Dragger View Post
                      Talk about posting too soon>
                      I just now received a call from that same customer.... the breaker tripped.
                      I told him to contact the appliance guy. Now go figure

                      I will check into the where the other AFCI's are located in the panel when I go back there.
                      Wave your other wand over it.
                      Tom
                      TBLO

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by oldsparky52 View Post
                        So what do you guys do with these types of calls?
                        I try to explain AFCI nuisance tripping to customer

                        They usually think I'm lying

                        Rarely a good final outcome
                        Think for yourself, while its still somewhat legal!
                        Clarkesville, Georgia

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by readydave8 View Post
                          I try to explain AFCI nuisance tripping to customer

                          They usually think I'm lying

                          Rarely a good final outcome
                          Well, at least all the electricians are telling the same lie,

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by readydave8 View Post
                            I try to explain AFCI nuisance tripping to customer

                            They usually think I'm lying (usually not, if they do, I tell them to Goggle "AFCI Nuisance trips"

                            Rarely a good final outcome
                            I have many more wins than loses.. but the loses hurt more..

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by readydave8 View Post
                              I try to explain AFCI nuisance tripping to customer

                              They usually think I'm lying

                              Rarely a good final outcome
                              I explain what trips a device, that either it's tripping because it should and the problem is either the load or something is fooling it, or it's tripping because it's bad, and we try substitution.
                              Master Electrician
                              Electrical Contractor
                              Richmond, VA

                              Comment

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