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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I have a situation where we had a Arch Flash in our bathroom recepticle and now there's no power to the receptacles or lighting there. We had a remodel over a year ago and the electrical panel was upgraded to a larger capacity panel. The contractor installed Arch Flash Circuit interrupting breakers (AFCI) for all the receptacles and lighting loads throughout the house. After the flash and power loss in the bathroom, I immediately checked the breakers and found nothing tripped. I then turned off andon each breaker to be sure they were all energized. Still no power in the bathroom. I then tested each breaker to ground and neautral bar and all showed to be energized with 120v ( or so). To make matters worse, the contractor did a crappy job labeling the circuits, so I don't know which breaker goes to the bathroom. There aren't any GFCI's receptacles down stream that would cause a power loss. I'm pretty sure I exhausted all the possibilities and therefore I have to conclude that the problem lies with these AFCI breakers.

My question, does anyone know if an AFCI breaker can fail even though it shows to be energized at the panel?

Thank you for your help in advance,

Frank
 

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The flash was probably a loose connection arcing. You need to open that device and check all the connections. If you can't determine which breaker it is then turn them all off.
Then go around and label the breakers for next time.
 

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Are there any GFCI plugs anywhere? What caused the arc at the plug in question. Check it, too. BTW, AFCI is called arc fault circuit interrupter.
 

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Wired-The arc was caused by one of those fragrance plug- ins w a night light. It has a small toggle switch and when my wife turned it on, it flashed. I've since thrown it away.

Thanks for the correction on arc fault.
 

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Joed-It wasn't a loose connection, but a air freshener plug-in w a night light that was plugged into a receptacle in the bathroom. When my wife turned it on, it threw an arc and lost power to the bathroom. I've thrown the air freshener device away.

Before I can label the circuits, I need to restore power to the area in question, but thanks for your response.
 

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When was your house built ?

It's hard for me to imagine a house without GFCI protection for the bathroom.

If you don't have a GFCI receptacle in the bathroom, I'd check the other bathrooms. Then I'd start working back towards the panel. In the early days of GFCI, there were crazy locations used to provide as much coverage as possible off one GFCI. I've found bathrooms protected by an exterior GFCI or by a GFCI in the attached garage (often hidden behind boxes)
 

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If you have AFCI breakers then the house is certainly new enough that is also has GFCI in the bathroom.
Check and reset all GFCI in all the bathrooms. They could have put multiple bathroom receptacles on the same circuit.
 

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When was your house built ?

It's hard for me to imagine a house without GFCI protection for the bathroom.

If you don't have a GFCI receptacle in the bathroom, I'd check the other bathrooms. Then I'd start working back towards the panel. In the early days of GFCI, there were crazy locations used to provide as much coverage as possible off one GFCI. I've found bathrooms protected by an exterior GFCI or by a GFCI in the attached garage (often hidden behind boxes)
A house I had built in Connecticut in 1978 had 1 GFCI in the downstairs bath that covered 2 upstairs baths, 3 receptacles in the garage and 2 outside receptacles. No GFCI in the kitchen. Sold the house in 1998 with no changes.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
Hey guys, thanks for all your responses. The house is around 60 years old, but there are GFCI receps for damp locations throughout the house. I've been able to rule them out as the root cause for the dead circuit in the bathroom as I have located them all, but will do another once over to be sure I didn't miss one.

My question was directed towards the AFCI breakers themselves as I have little experience with them and hoped someone here knew more about them than me. Thanks again!
 

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YES !
arc fault breakers can be faulty,
If proper test equipment says there is power in ?
But no power out ?
then I would double check the instructions
to see that I had reset it properly,
If that doesn't help then replace it !
:vs_cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
DMX, I'm going to buy a new AFCI breaker and use it to swap out one breaker at a time to see if I eventually restore power in the bathroom. Thanks and Happy New year to you.
 

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Joed, I'm not replacing all the breakers, just swapping one new one with existing and repeating the process until hopefully finding a bad one. If that doesn't work, I'll run another circuit to the bathroom. Thanks.
 

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I have known breakers to be .... finiky on reset. The last time, in this new old house, I replaced a breaker only to find I hadn't reset the old one completely ( maybe it was failing, maybe not) to reset I had to be certain I was pressing the toggle back into place and holding it there momentarily as versus just flipping it back to the ON position. BTW there was no load on that breaker while I was doing this.
 

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When testing the AFCI breakers, check for power between the 2 screws (black and white load wires) on the breaker. The neutral feeds thru the breaker as well as the hot.
 

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I then tested each breaker to ground and neautral bar and all showed to be energized with 120v ( or so).
Did you test it from the breaker's hot and neutral, or did you test it from the breaker's hot to the neutral *bar*?

I ask because AFCI's are supposed to trip when you test voltage to any other neutral than the one connected to the breaker. It's more of a GFCI kind of action there, but electricians routinely do this kind of test to watch the circuit trip when they test to the neutral ground bar instead of the breaker's neutral on AFCI's.

Sure sounds like you have a weird one...
 

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Tim and Wired,

I tested both ways. Hot to neutral on breaker and hot to neutral bar.

Tim, the AFCI's didn't trip when I tested to the neutral bar. I do agree I have somewhat of a Twilight Zone going on here. Thanks.
 

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Tim and Wired,

I tested both ways. Hot to neutral on breaker and hot to neutral bar.

Tim, the AFCI's didn't trip when I tested to the neutral bar. I do agree I have somewhat of a Twilight Zone going on here. Thanks.
Unless you're using a solenoid type tester, your meter is not going to trip the AFCI.

Since you've measured 120V at all breakers, the problem is in the circuit somewhere. Although I agree with Wired, that you should measure between the hot and neutral wired to the breaker.
If there is power there, then :

Tripped 'hidden' GFCI would be the first logical place to look.

A bad connection on the last working, or first non-working device would be the next logical place to look.
 
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