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Old 12-30-2010, 09:02 AM   #1
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Home Theater tripping one AFCI, but not another


I have a dedicated 20A circuit for my home theater wall. Installed (per code) a 20A AFCI breaker. If I plug in a small radio, it works fine and without issues. If I plug in my 500W shop light, it trips the breaker. If I plug in my Monster Cable Power Center, it trips. Same outcome with my powered subwoofer....trips. If I plug all of that same gear into my office's 15A circuit (also using an AFCI breaker), all is well.

Wondering if the breaker is bad. I've heard many reports that these AFCI's sometimes don't like to play nice. What has me scratching my head is why the small radio will work just fine. I got my sub to work for about a minute, then it tripped the breaker.

Inspection got an AOK.

Help?

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Old 12-30-2010, 09:41 AM   #2
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Home Theater tripping one AFCI, but not another


It certainly sounds like the breaker. Are these the type where you can't tell if it's short or an arc fault? The reset is the same and there's no indicator? just curious, it really doesn't make a difference.

One last troubleshooting try would be to switch the wires (temporarily only) between the 20A and 15A. If all is well with all the same wires except 15A, the only 2 possibilities are a bad spot on the panelboard (extremely unlikely) or a bad breaker. You can switch the spots in the panel if you want to absolutely rule that out, but pretty much for that to happen, you'd probably see melted metal.

Breakers do go bad, and since the major manufacturer moved to Mexico, I've heard of lots of bad ones brand new from the store. It's not as unlikely as it sounds at first, and the AFCI adds more complexity to screw up on.

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Old 12-30-2010, 10:00 AM   #3
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Home Theater tripping one AFCI, but not another


Pull the receptacle and look for wires touching.
A small radio will not pull enough power to find a problem like that.
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:16 AM   #4
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Home Theater tripping one AFCI, but not another


I'll try checking all the outlets for touching wires. I have about 9 of them on this circuit (one every other stud chase, plus one on the wall up top for a future flat panel TV. Overkill admittedly, but it'll all be concealed by a custom built in cabinet so I figured I'd go this route so I'm not stuck fishing wires several feet behind the cabinet in an effort to reach an outlet.

I've never done this with outlets before, but maybe I'll wrap them with electrical tape to ensure they are more isolated.

Thanks for the tips! I'll give both a try and report back.
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Old 12-31-2010, 05:27 PM   #5
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Home Theater tripping one AFCI, but not another


Found the issue. There was a ground wire barely touching a neutral wire on one of the outlets. I got that squared away, and the breaker no longer trips. Thanks for the help!
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:48 PM   #6
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Home Theater tripping one AFCI, but not another


Good to hear, and also good that I got one right!
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Old 01-01-2011, 06:13 AM   #7
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Home Theater tripping one AFCI, but not another


You're batting 1.000 jbfan. I'm a bit foreign to these AFCI breakers. All thne info you all have shared has helped. I was about to just swap it out with a normal breaker. Thanks again for the tip!

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