AFCI Tripping when dryer door is opened

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Rdcowart

Member
Location
North Carolina
Occupation
Electrician
I went to a customers home yesterday and they are having a problem with multiple Afci breakers kicking when they open the dryer door. I went through everything could not find anything. I was able to recreate the problem. I have had a problem like this before where the main neutral was loose and was causing multiple afci breakers to kick. The only problem I had yesterday there was a meter lock on the meter base from the power company. I told the customer to call the power company to check the neutral at the meter and the transformer. has anyone else ever ran into this problem before.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
When they open the dryer door, is the dryer running or stopped?

Clearly there is a correlation with the iron and dryer creating an arc signature and the AFCI breakers. The question then becomes whether the arcing is abnormal or the breakers are too sensitive. My money is on the breakers. Have you replaced them or checked to see that what is there is the latest release?

Has anyone else ever ran into this problem before.

Yes. Sometimes replacing the breakers, sometimes replacing the offending appliances like your dryer and iron. Often we never hear back that the problem was solved making me believe that the AFCI breakers were replaced with regular breakers.

-Hal
 

Rdcowart

Member
Location
North Carolina
Occupation
Electrician
Yes the dryer is running when they open the door. I didn’t replace the breakers yet. I wanted to have the neutral connections checked at the meter first waiting on the power company to come by and check it out. Meter had a power company lock on it. I ran into something almost like this before with a oven. After it would heat up and cut the cycle the AFCI breakers would kick. I found that the main neutral was loose when I tightened it down the problem was gone. I’m hoping that it is the same thing in this case.
 

Rdcowart

Member
Location
North Carolina
Occupation
Electrician
No it’s all of the afci breakers sometimes two of them will kick and the next time five of them will kick. I made sure all the neutrals where paired with the right breakers. Made sure all connections on dryer outlet was tight and on it’s breaker as well.
 

Another C10

Electrical Contractor 1987 - present
Location
Southern Cal
Occupation
Electrician NEC 2020
No it’s all of the afci breakers sometimes two of them will kick and the next time five of them will kick
I hate those sort of phenomena's .. I've had an arc fault trip when the customer kept pulling their cords out of the receptacle while the load was still engaged creating a disconnect or connection arc. It seemed the arc from the disconnect triggered the AFCI breaker, I'd consider the reason the others are affected is they're sensitivity is also picking up the fault through whatever reason. Those calls take some serious isolating techniques, problem is doing it without taking 1/2 the day.
 

ramsy

Owner/Operator
Location
LA basin, CA
Occupation
Service Electrician 2017 NEC
..has anyone else ever ran into this problem before.
Yes with 1st generation Eaton AFCI's. Tech support refused to confirm or deny any issues, but when breaker test-button exercise failed they authorized warranty replacement for 1 breaker. Lifetime warranty lasted 5 years, replaced all 3 with newer models and never got a call back.

Also found Festoon string lights from Amazon triping multiple Murray AFCI's. That was easy. Unplug lights, problem went away. This fault tripped several AFCI's in same panel, which rules out 30mA GFPE function as cause for all breakers.

Festoon lights were fed from outside patio outlet tied to living room. Several Festoon cords stretched around poles 40ft between spans in backyard. Cord sets were noticeable being pulled apart between sockets, so conductors where exposed to water intrusion. AFCI doing its job.
 

Rdcowart

Member
Location
North Carolina
Occupation
Electrician
I just wanted to give an update. So when I went back to start troubleshooting, I found that the light inside the dryer was what was causing the problem. I even got it to kick the breakers when the dryer was not running. Removed the bulb and couldn’t get it to trip again.
 

jusme123

Senior Member
Location
NY
Occupation
JW
By relocating a faulty breaker, you solved the problem/defect by moving it to another circuit?
 

ramsy

Owner/Operator
Location
LA basin, CA
Occupation
Service Electrician 2017 NEC
I just wanted to give an update. So when I went back to start troubleshooting, I found that the light inside the dryer was what was causing the problem. I even got it to kick the breakers when the dryer was not running. Removed the bulb and couldn’t get it to trip again.
Nice Find. Apparent moisture from wet clothes caused sparkage across light socket bypassing the appliance bulb.

Appliance lights are notorious for moisture intrusion, shocking people, & GFCI nuisance trips. Commercial refrigerators are among the worse designed with condensation accumulating in the lights.
 

McLintock

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician
I was told by another EC friend that if the system is bond at different points it will cause AFCI breakers to trip.


“ shoot low boys their riding shetland ponies”
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Hold on there!
Not much help when multiple afci breakers trip that aren’t associated with the dryer circuit. Making them still a farce.
I agree a problem on an non AFCI protected circuit should not be tripping other circuits, there is still design issues with these things yet we contractors are forced to use them anyway and often eat costs for things that are not our fault. Sure maybe OP may possibly get new AFCI's to replace those he is having trouble with, but I promise you he will not be reimbursed by the manufacturer for all his troubleshooting and may be lucky just to get a little something for replacing them, but likely not that either.
 

McLintock

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician
I agree a problem on an non AFCI protected circuit should not be tripping other circuits, there is still design issues with these things yet we contractors are forced to use them anyway and often eat costs for things that are not our fault. Sure maybe OP may possibly get new AFCI's to replace those he is having trouble with, but I promise you he will not be reimbursed by the manufacturer for all his troubleshooting and may be lucky just to get a little something for replacing them, but likely not that either.

I agree, if you just start replacing breakers it will just cost YOU time and money. Need to cover all your bases before you do that.

Like I said before I would double check the grounding system and see if your getting voltage on that side


“ shoot low boys their riding shetland ponies”
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Before telling customer to call POCO I would at least place temporary unbalanced load to see how neutral voltage responds. If not good response more fuel for your theory that they might have a problem. But here I usually will be one calling POCO and will likely be there when they show up to check out the problem, but here we typically know the POCO guys personally anyway, and even have personal mobile phone numbers for at least some of the supervisors and can bypass the main office clerk that will only pass a message on. Can't have that in many cases in large cities.
 
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