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Old 07-10-2009, 10:23 PM   #1
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


Hi All:

My house is 7 years old and about 1 week ago the Arc Fault Breaker that controls one bedroom (lights and outlets) and a hall light and closet light kept tripping. In fact when it tripped I turned off all the switches, unplugged everything and still the breaker would immediately trip.

Thought it was a bad Arc Fault breaker so I replaced it with a brand new one.
With everything turned off the new breaker stays on. If I plug something into an outlet the breaker stays on.

If I turn on any of the light switches (bedroom closet, hall, other closet) the breaker immediately trips.

I am a bit confused of why any light I turn on would cause the breaker to trip...I would think that a light might cause the breaker to trip but any light switch in the circuit?

Any ideas?

Much appreciated!

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Old 07-10-2009, 11:43 PM   #2
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


Seems to me that when the light is switched on there's a "leak" of current to something somewhere within that circuit. Could be an arc somewhere in the wiring, could be a bad switch, could be a low quality switch.

Might be a wild goose chase but it might be worth swapping the switch(es) whose use is causing the AFCI to trip with new ones. That would at least rule them out.

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Old 07-11-2009, 03:47 PM   #3
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


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Originally Posted by elab1 View Post
……… when it tripped I turned off all the switches, unplugged everything and still the breaker would immediately trip. ….
Congratulations on including some history. It sounds like you have started with all the right steps.

When you say everything did you mean just the AFCI breaker? If so there may be an overlooked AFCI protected receptacle that is outside the Bedroom.

Have there been ANY changes in plugged in devices, or lamp bulbs, or any changes at all in your home wiring?

Here is the Square D AFCI Data Sheet. I don’t know your brand, but this may
Spark an idea:
http://ecatalog.squared.com/pubs/Cir...0760DB0204.pdf

You will get more suggestions as you continue to respond, but please let us know the outcome because you WILL Find the solution that will help a lot of folks on this forum. Including Me.
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Old 07-11-2009, 04:23 PM   #4
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


Instead of replacing the switches right away, bypass them with a jumper (piece of wire and alligator clips) across the two screws (turn the power off first, of course). Once the switches are bypassed, turn the power back on. The breaker shouldn't trip if it's a bad switch. If it does trip, you have an arc fault somewhere. (Duh, but at least you'll know it isn't the switches. )
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Old 07-11-2009, 05:43 PM   #5
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


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Originally Posted by Bigplanz View Post
Instead of replacing the switches right away, bypass them with a jumper (piece of wire and alligator clips) across the two screws (turn the power off first, of course). Once the switches are bypassed, turn the power back on. The breaker shouldn't trip if it's a bad switch. If it does trip, you have an arc fault somewhere. (Duh, but at least you'll know it isn't the switches. )
Good.
I was going to say tease the switches on or off and listen with an AM radio tuned between stations for a drawn-out arc (if you can somehow bypass the AFCI).
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Old 07-12-2009, 03:49 AM   #6
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


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Originally Posted by elab1 View Post
......
If I turn on any of the light switches (bedroom closet, hall, other closet) the breaker immediately trips.
He has four switches

Chances are He doesn't suddenly have four bad switches

elab, We can't help until we get more info from you.

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Old 07-12-2009, 05:06 AM   #7
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


Quote:
Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
Seems to me that when the light is switched on there's a "leak" of current to something somewhere within that circuit. Could be an arc somewhere in the wiring, could be a bad switch, could be a low quality switch.

Might be a wild goose chase but it might be worth swapping the switch(es) whose use is causing the AFCI to trip with new ones. That would at least rule them out.
Hi.
I'm an old hat when it comes to residual earth leakage circuit breakers, having BUILT heavy Industrial "switchboards" & motor control centres, distribution mains etc., as a "FULLY REGISTERED Industrial Electrician - since 1985... so.
the quick answer is VERY VERY simple.
On the circuit in question..."SOMEWHERE" there is a direct fault "short_circuit_ to earth - between NOT a phase LIVE - but ALL connected Neutrals (A common problem - MOST often overlooked even by fully registered sparkies - unfimiliar with these devices)

Basically, I would strongly suspect rodent damage - somewhere inside Ur attic, or even a wall cavity..
AS this can be a very "difficult fault to pinpint & trace.. I would strongly suggest - wherever YOU reside- to go & thumb through your local service directory- & GRAB an electrical contractor - whom will HAVE the specialist tools, testing equipment & replacement cables.
Cheers.

Oh & P.s. any "out_of_balance" between current passing IN via a live line - MUST come OUT through the same circuit breakers neutral - or it WILL always "trip".
(which is exactly as this is doing.
SO - IF you are a home handyman - as I suspect... DO NOT stuff around with your life... as any illegal repair work COULD BE LETHAL.
OK?
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:10 AM   #8
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


Oh & ps... YOU should NEVER have general power outlets... connected into a "lower" fuse rated LIGHTING CIRCUIT.
For safety's sake & for general "fue rating purposes - these two circuits ARE not normally compatible. & split your house into several "lighting areas (as you obviously have - as YOU do not want "all" lights = out in a minor fault.

The gen purpose WALL outlets... should NEVER be part of general lighting... but as FEW per main cuircuit as possible.
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:21 AM   #9
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


For those of YOU - in the United States (as I now suspect this site "is" based") ... I am from way down "under"- in New Zealand - so do not ask for anything other than safety & fault finding advise.
As a quick flash across MAPS.GOOGLE [ http://tiny.cc/QUIX_View ] will show - via the "streetview" (link" I put here - as few in the USA? would even "know" the country I'm IN-?- let alone my rural area...

Cheers
Be safe
Do not LIVEN the circuit & DIE;
But "deaden" the circuit & LIVE
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:26 AM   #10
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


? I also notice that there is NO blog date posted here - so I will put todays date here - for my reference...

(NZ)
GMT+12
Sunday 12th July - 2009, 9:26 pm
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:31 AM   #11
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


'p.ppppss? or whatever
;-)
as ONLY the phase of the lights is switched- ANY ligth sw - will activate power to the neutrel - then via the fault - HALF the current will go "back" via the EARTH - & ONLY half back through the Neutral- thus an IMMEDIATE TRIP.
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:33 AM   #12
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


Referenced via:-
http://www.ewrb.govt.nz/
&
2007 WiringRules Standard
AS/NZS 3000:2007, Electrical Installations Standard - OUT NOW!
www.SaiGlobal.com/wiringrules

Last edited by L84DnR; 07-15-2009 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:58 AM   #13
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


L84D, Welcome to the Forum
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:43 PM   #14
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


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L84D, Welcome to the Forum
Thankyou...
but hopefully the original thread starter (whom seems to have vanished) has ACTUALLY taken some notice, & NOT fried himself inside his switchboard

(Me? I've been there "too" & ended UP with a very frazzled head, electrocution'ally THROWN_PHYSICALLY across a "freezing_works" floor one afternoon in ? 1983?)
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:45 PM   #15
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Arc Fault Break Tripping when any light switch turned on


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L84D, Welcome to the Forum
PS - its all in the "word" abriviation (LATE FOR DINNER)
I'ts not L84D?
As that simply means ? nothing

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