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Tripping AFCI Breaker Problems and How To Fix Them


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

What would cause a 15 amp AFCI breaker to trip immediately when it is reset and turned on? The Most Common Problems with AFCI Circuits and How to Fix Them.

AFCI Circuit Breaker Problems

Electrical Question: What would cause a 15 amp AFCI breaker to trip immediately when it is reset and turned on?

Any ideas what could be causing this? I would appreciate any help or advice as I am going crazy right now. The house was built in 2010 in Black Hawk County Iowa, it passed all inspection as far as I know. The contractor that built my house is not answering my phone calls. Thank you in advance.

This electrical wiring question came from Alex, in Waterloo, Iowa.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Alex.

How to Fix Tripping AFCI Breaker Problems

Application: Circuit Wiring for a AFCI.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and electrical troubleshooting skills.
Precaution: Identify the circuit, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before performing any wiring or inspections.

The Most Common Problems with AFCI Circuits and How to Fix Them:

More about AFCI Electrical Wiring

Wiring AFCI Circuits
afci-breaker

GFCI and AFCI Circuit Breakers

Arc Fault Circuit Interruption AFCI provides the extra measure of safety for your family. AFCI’s are installed serving required house wiring circuits protecting areas such as the bedrooms. AFCI protects the bedroom circuit devices against the danger of arcing which can lead to fire.

Electrical Codes for AFCI Circuits
Dave explains Electrical Codes for AFCI Circuit Home Wiring.



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4 Responses to “Tripping AFCI Breaker Problems and How To Fix Them”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Thank you Scott,
    I would be interested to know the utility company’s findings. If the overhead drop splice is found to be OK then it would be good for them to pull the meter and inspect the meter socket. Meter sockets may experience deteriorating and burnt lug connections, however this is more common in the summer time when the electrical load is higher. Temperature swings can create expansion and contractions with larger wire, especially aluminum, which can then create a burnt lug connection that will then cause power abnormalities with the home circuits.
    Be Safe,
    Dave

  2. Scott Sidell says:

    Dave:

    Great advise. I called our local utility and they’re coming by today to check. The guy at the utility was skeptical, but I’m convinced this is the problem. It’s more than a little windy today (15mph+) and the breakers are tripping and I noticed a definite flicker to the lights when they are on. And since 4-5 breakers are tripping, it can’t be something on any individual circuit. It has to be the service connection.

    Great website. And thanks again for the help.

    Scott

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Scott,
    Yes nuisance trips of AFCI breakers can be a problem, however because of the correlation between the time of the tripping and the windy weather conditions I would focus on the incoming electrical service, especially if it is the overhead type. My reasoning is because of the movement of the overhead lines from the utility company to the home can move a lot which could eventually create a loose splice at the service connection outside of the weather head. I would confess that this would be an odd occurrence or possibility because the AFCI should be reacting to the arc faults of the downstream circuit, however it would be worth looking into due to your description. I would contact your local electrical utility provider and request them to take a look at the incoming service and connections. They could use an thermal heat detector to scan the connections for excessive heat. Of course, this inspection would be best right after a windstorm when you are experiencing this problem of tripping AFCI breakers. The aforementioned possibility would be supported especially if you have noticed any lights that flicker at the same time that the AFCI breakers react.
    I hope this helps,
    Dave

  4. Scott Sidell says:

    I’m having a similar problem, but a little more bizarre. Our house was built in 2010 and every once in a while three of the AFCI breakers start tripping pretty much at the same time, one on the kitchen downstairs and two on upstairs bedrooms. At its worst, I can’t even reset the breakers without their immediately tripping. The breaker will even trip when there is nothing on in the room.

    We live in Alaska and get some pretty powerful winds here. It appears that this problem arises after a windstorm plagues us for a day or two, and then just goes away. I’ve replaced the breakers twice, and the ones in there are only a couple of months old. Can there be a connection between the winds and the problem? Any advise on how I can fix this? I’ve had a good electrician here twice but he’s stumped.