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Old 08-25-2009, 06:37 AM   #1
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AFCI Question


So i am in the process of finishing my basement. I know the code for bedrooms is afci, but for the living room do i need to put one in there also? I know for new construction you do (all rooms except for kitchen and bathroom) but what about something like this (finishing basement)? Also is there anything i need to worry about with putting an afci in a sub-panel? The sub will be isolated so that the neutral and ground are seperate and only touch in the main.

The current panel has only 2 slots left in it so i am going to be doing a 50a dual pole breaker to some 6-3 (less than 15' from the main in the basement) to the new sub. The basement will only have 3 circuits (15a bedroom, 15a living room, 20a bath room its only a 700sf basement). doing the sub will also leave me a little wiggle room if i ever need any more.

Thanks for any input!
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:54 AM   #2
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The 2008 NEC requires most 20 amp or less breakers to be AFCI, whereas the earlier versions of the NEC only required them in sleeping areas. The AFCI thing started in the 1999 NEC and became enforceable in 2001 per the 1999 code. Things stayed the same in 2003 and 2005. 2008 is a significant and controversial change.

You need to determine what NEC code cycle your city's building department has adopted and what they enforce. Just because it is 2009 does not mean that your locality has adopted the 2008 code...Around here nobody has that I'm aware of, and this is a major metro area.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:56 AM   #3
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No problem to have AFCI's in a sub-panel.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:59 AM   #4
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I suppose when i do the rough-in i can just ask. Since i dont need them at that time.

What do they look for in electrical rough-ins?
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:22 AM   #5
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AFCI breakers
They are longer then normal breakers
I'm not aware of anyone making an AFCI outlet yet

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Old 08-25-2009, 08:33 AM   #6
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What do they look for in electrical rough-ins?
Although it can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, generally the rough-in is so device location, concealed wiring, wire size, etc. can be looked at before it is covered with sheetrock. At rough-in I'm looking to make sure that all the grounds are mechanically tied in the boxes, the metal boxes are bonded, the wire is sized right, switch locations are ok, light locations are ok, smokes' boxes are installed where required, receptacle spacing and location, etc. Connections at the panel are something I check at final, that includes breakers. Your inspector may do it a bit different.

The only challenge with not knowing if you need AFCI's is if you're pulling multiwire branch circuits, that could really complicate things sometimes. (that's a red, black, and white wire instead of just a black and a white)
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:38 AM   #7
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No multi wire branches. The two circuits that may require the afci's are only ran with 14-2. One circuit is only 6 outlets and the other is 7 outlets and 2 can lights. The one circuit with the 6 outlets, the lights are on an existing circuit (just breaking the current setup to add a switch to).

I like to make it sinple and just a direct circle around the room.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:46 AM   #8
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I like to make it sinple and just a direct circle around the room.
Amen. You'll be in good shape. Probably fine to ask the inspector what code they're enforcing at rough-in.
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:09 AM   #9
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You might also want to give some thought to what you're trying to accomplish by installing AFCI protection, even if it's not currently required on a specific circuit or at a specific location by the revision of the code currently adopted by your local AHJ.

For example in the areas where I inspect, houses were often wired with knob and tube. Even if the obvious knob and tube is been decommissioned it's not unusual for electrician to discover that there is still energized K&T present, for example within walls and ceilings. Especially if there is evidence that the K&T wiring is deteriorating, in my opinion it makes sense to protect every circuit which may contain knob and tube conductors with AFCI breakers - irrespectively of whether such protection is currently required by the AHJ.

Similarly, there are certain situations in which the sorts of faults against which AFCIs protect are most likely to occur.

An example would be locations such as bedrooms were there is the possibility that extension cords may be run under rugs or near furniture such as dressers on casters which could damage the cords. The same is true of locations where there are insufficient numbers of outlets or were outlets are in inconvenient locations, and it's likely that occupants will be tempted to use extension cords, especially if they're going to be using multi-tap cords to support a large number of electric devices. In my opinion a "shop area" in an unfinished basement is another example, in this case in my opinion it would be a good idea to install a combination breaker providing both AFCI and GFCI protection to individuals, equipment and wiring.
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Last edited by Michael Thomas; 08-25-2009 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:31 AM   #10
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At rough-in I'm looking to make sure that all the grounds are mechanically tied in the boxes, the metal boxes are bonded, the wire is sized right, switch locations are ok, light locations are ok, smokes' boxes are installed where required, receptacle spacing and location, etc.
What do you mean by "All grounds are mechanically tied in the boxes"?
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:34 AM   #11
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My understanding of that is if you are using metal boxes. I am using plastic. so all my grounding is done at the sub panel. all the grounds will be "pig-tailed" in the outlets.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:02 AM   #12
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What do you mean by "All grounds are mechanically tied in the boxes"?
The grounds (if multiple grounds in the box) are requried by code to be mechanically tied together. Simply twisting them is not code-compliant, but a lot of people just twist. A buchanan crimp or wire nut (with pigtails if necessary) is needed. This is often checked at rough-in since the devices are in the way at final.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:03 AM   #13
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My understanding of that is if you are using metal boxes. I am using plastic. so all my grounding is done at the sub panel. all the grounds will be "pig-tailed" in the outlets.
Correct. Your plastic boxes aren't going to have to be bonded. But you will need to pigtail a ground wire to each and every light switch.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:06 AM   #14
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Yeah i knew that.

on an outlet do you have to do pig-tails or can i just use both terminal screws on the sides?
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Old 08-25-2009, 12:27 PM   #15
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There is only one grounding terminal screw on an outlet device. If you only have 2 wires of each circuit conductor present, then you are allowed to use the terminal screws for circuit continuity. Provided, of course, you are not using the outlet as part of the neutral conductor of a multi-wire branch circuit(s).
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