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Old 01-31-2013, 12:54 PM   #31
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AFCI Tripping


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I would agree we are just trying to elimate areas that might be causing your problem.

Heres how I would approach this .. I'd check continuity in the cable that feeds power to the light switch from the receptacle. Check neutral to ground .. no continuity. Any phase (hot wire) fault to neutral or ground will show itself whether fan switch is on or not in this part of the circuit. Now check wiring to fan with fan out of the circuit. It the afci trips with switch on and no fan/light connection then you have a phase fault to ground or neutral. If the afci holds then check continuity between neutral and ground with the fan disconnected and power off (remember power off for continuity). Should be no continuity. What we are doing here is determining if when the fan is turned on and assuming it is fine is there a connection between neutral and ground in the wiring from the receptacle and fan. If that is the case the afci ground fault circuitry will see this current imbalance and trip.
So last night when trying to trouble shoot this, I was able to keep it from tripping by keeping the switch in the off position. In the off position, all receptacles worked without tripping. It trips the very second I turn the switch on. I removed the switch and just tied the hots together to see if it was the switch, and it tripped immediately. I am a DIY, all this checking of continuity is confusing to me

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Old 01-31-2013, 12:57 PM   #32
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AFCI Tripping


Any neutral to ground fault in the circuit would trip the AFCI immediately, whether the switch is on or not... the circuitry behaves just like a GFCI in this instance. My bet is a dead short between the switch and fan causing the breaker to trip, either a clamp too tight or a random wire strand touching the ground.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:01 PM   #33
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AFCI Tripping


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Originally Posted by HouseHelper View Post
Any neutral to ground fault in the circuit would trip the AFCI immediately, whether the switch is on or not... the circuitry behaves just like a GFCI in this instance. My bet is a dead short between the switch and fan causing the breaker to trip, either a clamp too tight or a random wire strand touching the ground.
That is good news then. My receptacle wiring is good then right? There is only one clamp. That is at the fan box. The switch is in a old work plastic box, and I can't imagine that clamping the wire too tight. There are a couple staples in the attic that could be the culprit I guess.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:06 PM   #34
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AFCI Tripping


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Originally Posted by GOLDBIO View Post
That is good news then. My receptacle wiring is good then right? There is only one clamp. That is at the fan box. The switch is in a old work plastic box, and I can't imagine that clamping the wire too tight. There are a couple staples in the attic that could be the culprit I guess.
I would agree with househelper I think those are good odds. I'm trying to get you a testing method that will determine these problems without randomly jumping all over the place ....

I apologize if i'm making things too complicated.

Yes I would say your receptacle wiring is fine.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:10 PM   #35
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AFCI Tripping


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Originally Posted by stubie View Post
I would agree with househelper I think those are good odds. I'm trying to get you a testing method that will determine these problems without randomly jumping all over the place ....

I apologize if i'm making things too complicated.

Yes I would say your receptacle wiring is fine.

Lol, any help is appreciated. I am limited in my electrical knowledge, even if I did pass the homeowners test the county gave me. I was following much easier when we were talking about disconnecting the wire at different points. It is the ground/neutral continuity that I get lost with. Good thing I tackled this complicated bedroom circuit first
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:53 AM   #36
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AFCI Tripping


So last night didn't come out too productive. I disconnected the switch and tried the receptacles with the shop vac and tripped immediately. The receptacles will work without tripping the breaker with just a radio plugged in. To test the breaker, I used a regular 15 amp breaker and got the same result. This is frustrating because it isn't a complicated circuit. How should I go about finding the problem. I appreciate everyone's help thus far.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:55 AM   #37
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AFCI Tripping


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Originally Posted by GOLDBIO View Post
So last night didn't come out too productive. I disconnected the switch and tried the receptacles with the shop vac and tripped immediately. The receptacles will work without tripping the breaker with just a radio plugged in. To test the breaker, I used a regular 15 amp breaker and got the same result. This is frustrating because it isn't a complicated circuit. How should I go about finding the problem. I appreciate everyone's help thus far.
To make sure no neutrals or grounds were touching, I pulled every receptacle out of the box and separated all the wires to be 100% sure that wasn't the issue. So it isn't the wires touching, it isn't the breaker.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:25 AM   #38
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AFCI Tripping


Just jumping in on this thread guys, so you took the afci out and replaced with basic 15amp breaker and when you put heavier load (shop vac) the 15amp breaker trips but doesn't with a clock radio? I would bet you a cup of joe that there is damage to the 14/2 NM cable somewhere causing a short under heavier current draw. Does the shopvac cause the 15amp breaker to trip in the first recep in line? If so, I would guess the damage is between the panel and that recep. If not, then between that recep and next, etc. I agree with stubie about searching for continuity with power OFF. But I understand you might not have tester for this. You should not have continuity between hot and ground.

I also found this thread from earlier posts on this topic.
AFCI breaker tripping

Last edited by atxpackfan; 02-01-2013 at 10:42 AM. Reason: Updated to include old thread link.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:09 AM   #39
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AFCI Tripping


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Just jumping in on this thread guys, so you took the afci out and replaced with basic 15amp breaker and when you put heavier load (shop vac) the 15amp breaker trips but doesn't with a clock radio? I would bet you a cup of joe that there is damage to the 14/2 NM cable somewhere causing a short under heavier current draw. Does the shopvac cause the 15amp breaker to trip in the first recep in line? If so, I would guess the damage is between the panel and that recep. If not, then between that recep and next, etc. I agree with stubie about searching for continuity with power OFF. But I understand you might not have tester for this. You should not have continuity between hot and ground.

I also found this thread from earlier posts on this topic.
AFCI breaker tripping
packfan. thanks. The receptacle tested was not the first in the series. However, I am assuming that since I pigtailed the receptacles, it shouldn't really matter which one was tested correct?

Here is the wiring. 14-2 from panel to six receptacles all pigtailed. rec. 6 to a switch, switch to fan. With switch off, receptacles will hold a radio, but not a shop vac. If I flip the switch, trips immediately with no load on anything.

Where do I start here without a tester?
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:34 PM   #40
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AFCI Tripping


Try the shop vac in each receptacle.
You could be good from the panel to the first, but have a problem from the first to the second.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:34 PM   #41
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AFCI Tripping


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packfan. thanks. The receptacle tested was not the first in the series. However, I am assuming that since I pigtailed the receptacles, it shouldn't really matter which one was tested correct?

Here is the wiring. 14-2 from panel to six receptacles all pigtailed. rec. 6 to a switch, switch to fan. With switch off, receptacles will hold a radio, but not a shop vac. If I flip the switch, trips immediately with no load on anything.

Where do I start here without a tester?
As far as the 'shop vac' test...I it does matter which recep you are plugged into because we are trying to determine/locate if there is damage to the romex between the panel and where you are putting the load on the circuit...my guess is a minor nick in the black wire that when load (shop vac) is plugged in it caused high enough current flow to short between the nicked wire and the ground. <---This is an educated guess of course. The reason I suggest starting with the first recep is that the current draw will be isolated to that recep....if the breaker holds...then it's most likely a damaged wire between that first receptacle and the next....it's a process of elimination. Again, if you had a continuity tester, with the power OFF, you could test continuity between hot and neutral and hot and ground on each 'section' of romex.

You could disconnect the downline recepts for each test as well...thereby isolating the romex 'section'.

Last edited by atxpackfan; 02-01-2013 at 12:42 PM. Reason: adding to post
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:38 PM   #42
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AFCI Tripping


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As far as the 'shop vac' test...I it does matter which recep you are plugged into because we are trying to determine/locate if there is damage to the romex between the panel and where you are putting the load on the circuit...my guess is a minor nick in the black wire that when load (shop vac) is plugged in it caused high enough current flow to short between the nicked wire and the ground. <---This is an educated guess of course. The reason I suggest starting with the first recep is that the current draw will be isolated to that recep....if the breaker holds...then it's most likely a damaged wire between that first receptacle and the next....it's a process of elimination. Again, if you had a continuity tester, with the power OFF, you could test continuity between hot and neutral and hot and ground on each 'section' of romex.
So I can just test each receptacle in order without undoing any of the connections? When I get to one that trips, then the problem is between that and the last one?
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:48 PM   #43
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So I can just test each receptacle in order without undoing any of the connections? When I get to one that trips, then the problem is between that and the last one?
The problem will be between the last working one and the one that trips the breaker.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:52 PM   #44
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The problem will be between the last working one and the one that trips the breaker.
Sounds good. Hopefully I can report back tomorrow with good news.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:30 AM   #45
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AFCI Tripping


I wanted to thank everyone for their help and update everyone on the problem. I went to the middle receptacle and disconnected. Everything worked fine. Made my way downstream a couple more receptacles, everything was fine. Unhooked the light switch. Everything was fine. Rewired light switch and disconnected fan, everything fine. Took the fan apart and looked at the wiring. Sure enough, the zip ties the factory used to tie the 400 wires in the fan together had punctured a black wire and the wiring was exposed. Removed the zip tie, electrical taped the heck out of the wire, reconnected, and everything works perfect. Spend two nights trying to figure out what I did wrong....Thanks again for everyone's help.

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