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Old 01-31-2013, 09:01 AM   #1
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AFCI Tripping


I have completely rewired a bedroom in my house during a remodel. There are six receptacles which eventually lead to a single switch controlling a ceiling fan. Whenever I move the switch to the on position, the breaker trips immediately. With the switch in the off position, the breaker will stay on and I can plug a load into any of the receptacles and have them work. I also tried removing the switch and bypassing it but the breaker again immediately trips.

HELP!!!! I was at this all night and don't want to do it again tonight with no results!

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Old 01-31-2013, 10:03 AM   #2
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AFCI Tripping


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I have completely rewired a bedroom in my house during a remodel. There are six receptacles which eventually lead to a single switch controlling a ceiling fan. Whenever I move the switch to the on position, the breaker trips immediately. With the switch in the off position, the breaker will stay on and I can plug a load into any of the receptacles and have them work. I also tried removing the switch and bypassing it but the breaker again immediately trips.

HELP!!!! I was at this all night and don't want to do it again tonight with no results!
Afci breaker trips immediately when a light is turned on has several possibilities.

1. Light dome has a flourescent bulb/w ballast
2. Neutral to ground short at the light fixture wiring.
3. Phase to ground or phase to neutral short
4. If nm cable used too metal ceiling fan box a metal nm clamp may be tightened too much damaging the insulation of the wire(s) causing short.
5.) Shared neutral at the home run electrical box .. bed room is served by a multiwire branch circuit containing too hots and shared neutral. A cable like 14/3 with ground being used to operate the bedroom receptacles and lights.
6.) Possible nail through cable on ceiling fan switch leg

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Old 01-31-2013, 10:13 AM   #3
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Afci breaker trips immediately when a light is turned on has several possibilities.

1. Light dome has a flourescent bulb/w ballast
2. Neutral to ground short at the light fixture wiring.
3. Phase to ground or phase to neutral short
4. If nm cable used too metal ceiling fan box a metal nm clamp may be tightened too much damaging the insulation of the wire(s) causing short.
5.) Shared neutral at the home run electrical box .. bed room is served by a multiwire branch circuit containing too hots and shared neutral. A cable like 14/3 with ground being used to operate the bedroom receptacles and lights.
6.) Possible nail through cable on ceiling fan switch leg
1. I would have to check on the lighting. I don't believe this to be the case. It has three smaller bulbs on it.
2. I double checked all connections and made sure the wires were not near each other.
5. No shared neutral for sure. Single circuit. It is 14-2. Home run to receptacle, pigtailed connections to next 5 receptacles, to a single gang box to a ceiling fan.
6. I fished this wire into the wall. Possible that I may have stapled too tight in the attic.

Any other ideas? If it were a bad connection at any of the receptacles, would it trip the breaker if the switch was off? What is the best way to troubleshoot this? Got a baby due in a month and the wife may be pissed if this room, the nursery, doesn't have lighting
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:19 AM   #4
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AFCI Tripping


You seem to have isolated this to something downstream of the switch. Disconnect the outgoing wires from the switch after turning off the breaker. Restore power to the circuit and try the switch. See if it trips. If it stays on again cut the power and attach the wires to the switch. Remove the fixture wiring at the ceiling from the fixture. Restore power and test. If the power stays on the problem is the fixture, if not the problem is between the switch and the fixture.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:21 AM   #5
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AFCI Tripping


How did you wire the switch? Since the breaker trips when turning on the switch, you may it wired so a direct short is created when turned on (only black wires should be on the switch, whites tied together).
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:23 AM   #6
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You seem to have isolated this to something downstream of the switch. Disconnect the outgoing wires from the switch after turning off the breaker. Restore power to the circuit and try the switch. See if it trips. If it stays on again cut the power and attach the wires to the switch. Remove the fixture wiring at the ceiling from the fixture. Restore power and test. If the power stays on the problem is the fixture, if not the problem is between the switch and the fixture.
Thanks Jim

I actually took the switch out and just connected the hots together. I didn't undo the neutrals at the switch, just took the switch out of the picture. It tripped immediately. This tells me it isn't the switch right?

If the problem is in the fixture, is there a fix to that or is returning it for another the best solution?
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:25 AM   #7
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How did you wire the switch? Since the breaker trips when turning on the switch, you may it wired so a direct short is created when turned on (only black wires should be on the switch, whites tied together).
Two whites twisted together cap. Two black wires connected to the switch screws. Ground from the 2 runs of nm and ground from the switch together. It was late, but I wasn't that tired
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:36 AM   #8
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AFCI Tripping


the single wall switch goes to the fan and light fixture? So I assume the fan and light are operated independently by pull string when power is supplied by wall switch?

Is the fan currently in the on position? The fan motor could be tripping the AFCI...
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:37 AM   #9
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AFCI Tripping


Sounds like the problem is in the wiring to the ceiling fan or connections at the fan.

I know its a pain but you need to make sure you do not have continuity between any of the wires going to the ceiling fan. Best way to do this is disconnect all the wires at the ceiling fan and turn on the switch. does the afci trip or hold? If it holds turn off breaker and check continuity between neutral and ground. If it trips you have a short to ground or neutral from the hot wire.

Last edited by Stubbie; 01-31-2013 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:38 AM   #10
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AFCI Tripping


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the single wall switch goes to the fan and light fixture? So I assume the fan and light are operated independently by pull string when power is supplied by wall switch?

Is the fan currently in the on position? The fan motor could be tripping the AFCI...
Exactly. One switch. Light and fan are operated by pull switch.

I could tell you if the fan was in the on position if the breaker stayed on for more than 1 second That is what I was thinking.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:40 AM   #11
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AFCI Tripping


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Exactly. One switch. Light and fan are operated by pull switch.

I could tell you if the fan was in the on position if the breaker stayed on for more than 1 second That is what I was thinking.
Very doubtful that the fan is tripping the afci if the wiring is correct. Is the ceiling fan new?
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:41 AM   #12
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AFCI Tripping


Follow the advice given by Jim in post 4 to isolate the problem.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:42 AM   #13
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AFCI Tripping


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Sounds like the problem is in the wiring to the ceiling fan or connections at the fan.

I know its a pain but you need to make sure you do not have continuity between any of the wires going to the ceiling fan. Best way to do this is disconnect all the wires at the ceiling fan and turn on the switch. does the afci trip or hold?

I will do that tonight. I will disconnect the wires at the fan and test the switch to see if it holds. If it does, then the problem is in my wiring to the fan or in the fan itself?
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:42 AM   #14
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AFCI Tripping


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Very doubtful that the fan is tripping the afci if the wiring is correct. Is the ceiling fan new?

Everything is brand new. New wiring, new boxes, new fixture(fan), 100% replaced.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:43 AM   #15
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AFCI Tripping


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Exactly. One switch. Light and fan are operated by pull switch.

I could tell you if the fan was in the on position if the breaker stayed on for more than 1 second That is what I was thinking.
Pull string, reset breaker, flip switch....
Pull string, reset breaker, flip switch....
Pull string, reset breaker, flip switch....


If it's the fan you'll know by the 3rd try.

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