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Old 10-29-2009, 12:21 PM   #1
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Arc Fault Breaker Tripping


Can anyone offer suggestions as to why an AFCI trips in my bedroom, given the following? - It trips about every 6 months or so, virtually always while I am in the shower. The bathroom lights go out, so I know exactly when it trips. I'm thinking that condensation from the shower around the bathroom light/fan combination may slowly edge the breaker towards a trip, but I can't see how that is so from how the AFCI works. I could understand it better if it were a GFCI. From what I have read, AFCIs should only be used on bhedroom outlets. My home is about 5 years old. If the breaker tripped the moment I switched something on then the cause would be clear, but the fact that it trips during a "steady state" situation, and only then after an often repeatable time period, is a bit odd to me. When I go down to the breaker box, I have noticed that the AFCI is never all the way off. I find it in some half-way position between fully off & fully on. I flick it completely off & then back on, without changing the load that was on immediately before the thing tripped & all is well for another 6 months!
Thanks for any ideas.

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Old 10-29-2009, 01:12 PM   #2
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Arc Fault Breaker Tripping


Could be a loose wire
Possibly the flow of water creates a vibration which then causes the loose wire to move & the AFCI to trip
Any lights replaced recently or other work?

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Old 10-29-2009, 02:55 PM   #3
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Arc Fault Breaker Tripping


I'm thinking that vibration from the fan, which is behind the light might have something to do with it. The light is a compact twisty fluorescent & they last quite a bit longer than the time intervals between the AFCI trips. A losened wire might well be the cause & since the only vibration of which I can think is the fan, I'll take a close look at the bathroom fixture. The builder of our home left several significnat problems in other areas so a loose connection sounds very plausible, but for it to be so regular still seems a tad odd.
Thanks
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Old 10-29-2009, 04:10 PM   #4
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Arc Fault Breaker Tripping


Quote:
Originally Posted by BasementVirgin View Post
why an AFCI trips
Reversed hot and neutral wires

Shared neutral wiring on single pole circuit breaker circuits: this is already an existing problem with GFCI's on multiwire branch circuits.

Incorrect or accidental connections between the ground and neutral wire:

A common source of accidental ground-neutral connections occurs when an electrician over-tightens the clamp connector on BX (armored cable) where it connects to a steel junction box.
We saw that his over-tightening the connector pinched inwards the edges of the BX cable. If the BX cable edge cuts into the hot wire the electrician discovers this fault immediately when power is restored to the circuit. But if the cable edge cuts into the neutral wire, the electrician does not discover this fault until a GFCI or an AFCI is installed on the circuit, or until someone touches a supposedly safe armored cable wire exterior and gets a shock.

Normal arcing in appliances: Nuisance tripping that could occur from the normal arcing that occurs in some appliances (such as a vacuum cleaner motor) has been considered in the design of the AFCI circuit. The AFCI is designed to tell the difference between this ordinary arcing and the type of arcing in a circuit that may cause a fire.

I guess there could also be a ground fault.

And one OP lived near a radio station and had to get filters from the AFCI manuf. for the thing to work properly.
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:56 AM   #5
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Arc Fault Breaker Tripping


Surge protectors can cause nuisance tripping of GFCI and AFCI devices.

Do you have a computer on that circuit? Plugged into a surge-protected power strip?
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Old 10-30-2009, 10:32 AM   #6
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Arc Fault Breaker Tripping


Quote:
Originally Posted by BasementVirgin View Post
The bathroom lights go out, so I know exactly when it trips.
I would question why the bathroom fixture is wired to an AFCI breaker. When the house was wired, 5 years ago, only bedrooms were required to have AFCI protection. Am I missing something?

Regards,
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Old 10-30-2009, 10:42 AM   #7
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Arc Fault Breaker Tripping


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike2401 View Post
I would question why the bathroom fixture is wired to an AFCI breaker. When the house was wired, 5 years ago, only bedrooms were required to have AFCI protection. Am I missing something?

Regards,
That was the MIn requirement
NEC dictates Min code requirements
You can always exceed what is required by NEC & many times its a good idea - like an outlet every 12' - mine are 4-5' apart

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