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Carpet

@71.208.111.x

[Electrical] Breakers in newer home keep tripping

Hi. I have a relatively new home in Colorado. When I first moved in I had breakers flipping in one spot. Builder said new "mandated breakers" we're sensitive. Had an electrician replace guilty breaker and have had no problems until recently, garage breaker for lights flips off regularly and now the a bedroom breaker is flipping. Neither have much load and the bedroom has nothing but the main light in the room which triggers the breaker to flip. Trying to understand if I replace these "code" breakers with new ones or go back to the breakers which can be used in older homes.

Thoughts please.

iknow_t

join:2012-05-03

1 recommendation

I think you mean AFCI breakers were installed. I think they were designed to keep people in shape, having to run to the breaker box often to reset them..


Carpet

@71.208.111.x
You are probably correct. There has to be a straightforward solution to this annoying problem.


Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC
Reviews:
·Hargray Cable
reply to Carpet
My garage has GFCI outlets they do pop once in a while and same in the bathroom but it's just a press to reset on the wall. Not very often but it does happen enough to notice.

You have GFCI breakers or something like that. I have a sink in my garage so I think that's why they put in the garage???


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
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1 recommendation

reply to Carpet
AFCI breakers are required now for most circuits in a residence. Replacing them with old style breakers would be a code violation, and could leave your insurance company with an "out" should something catastrophic happen.

I personally believe AFCI breakers have their place and will save lives and property. I believe code has gone too far in requiring their widespread placement until nuisance tripping can be cut back substantially. I believe than manufacturers still have some ground to cover.

I'm not going to say AFCI breakers never trip without reason - but, usually there is an underlying reason (fault). It may not be a good reason, but nonetheless, there's a reason.

The BIGGEST reason, by far, that I see for randomly tripping AFCI breakers - backstabbed switches and receptacles. The poor connection provided by backstab devices causes a minute arc any time load changes or things are plugged in / unplugged. The breaker senses the arc and does it's job - it trips.

Unfortunately, most "troubleshooting" (especially by builders "electricians") consists of simply replacing the breaker rather than finding the root cause. I put the term "electrician" in quotes, because I use it loosely. Most (not all) of the "electricians" wiring non-custom residential homes are just wire slingers employed by an electrical contractor.
You'd be surprised how many of these "electricians' can't troubleshoot their way out of a wet paper bag.

Being a new house, I'd demand warranty service. I'd tell the builder to send out a "service" electrician rather than a construction guy. If they will not, hire a real electrician and send the builder the bill.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.


Coma
Thanks Steve
Premium
join:2001-12-30
NirvanaLand
kudos:1
reply to Carpet

You could always replace your current breaker box with a Federal Pacific box since they never trip.

--
May is National Mental Health Month

tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
reply to Carpet
Look for a cause. It maybe a device arcing(or simulates arcing*) located anywhere in your house or in a neighbors house connected to the same transformer. Sometimes just an intense lightning storm will trip them. Same goes for GFCI's.

For all houses, new or old, I always a recommend installing a whole house surge suppressor in the main breaker box.

*note: Turning on my bedroom no-hum ceiling fan controller often trips the bathroom GFCI outlet. The no-hum controller as several capacitors which get swtiched in series with ceiling fan motor, and that switching function often produces a large electrical noise spike.


DarkLogix
Texan and Proud
Premium
join:2008-10-23
Baytown, TX
kudos:3

1 recommendation

reply to Coma
said by Coma:


You could always replace your current breaker box with a Federal Pacific box since they never trip.

LOL
--
semper idem
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Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY
reply to Carpet
Like nunya, I don't really believe that AFCI breakers have been developed to the extent that they are ready for the widespread use of the present code requires. They just aren't ready for prime time yet! However unlike nunya I don't believe that they have the potential to prevent many serious injuries or deaths. I personally think they are a solution looking for a problem.

Arc Faults are a significant problem in concern in high-voltage applications but I don't feel that there is enough potential for the problem to exist in 120 V applications toward the widespread use of them! I feel they are just a money grab by the equipment manufacturers and that they strong-armed the code officials into requiring them!

That being said, if you are having as many trips as you indicated in your original post justly have some kind of problem occurring. The source of the problem needs to be found in a good guess would be that your receptacles are backstabbed!
--
Written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking


Coma
Thanks Steve
Premium
join:2001-12-30
NirvanaLand
kudos:1
said by Msradell:

The source of the problem needs to be found in a good guess would be that your receptacles are backstabbed!


Very easy to check.

--
May is National Mental Health Month

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to nunya
said by nunya:

The BIGGEST reason, by far, that I see for randomly tripping AFCI breakers - backstabbed switches and receptacles.

Can a faulty switch cause an AFCI to trip? I've replaced switches before that were arcing or sounding like they were. Would that trip an AFCI?


Jan Janowski
Premium
join:2000-06-18
Skokie, IL
reply to Carpet
If you have dimmers and CFL's and the AFCI breakers... You will be seeing this... Remove dimmers from CFL's...
New construction 11/2013
--
Looking for 1939 Indian Motocycle


enon

@50.153.112.x
reply to Msradell
said by Msradell:

Arc Faults are a significant problem in concern in high-voltage applications but I don't feel that there is enough potential for the problem to exist in 120 V applications toward the widespread use of them!

I don't think the idea behind AFCI breakers in residential applications is to prevent high voltage arc fault events. I'm pretty sure the intent is to catch small problems (improperly terminated devices, damaged insulation behind walls / under carpet etc) before they become big problems (house fire). I would wager the root cause of most house fires classified as "electrical" start out as things slowly overheating and progressing to tiny arcs -- not enough to trip a standard breaker but detectable by software algorithms in an AFCI -- before finally resulting in a conflagration.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel
reply to Carpet
Another possibility that hasn't been mentioned yet... some type of AFCI breakers can be susceptible to radio frequency interference (RFI). I've heard of a few amateur radio operators having big problems with this and even causing their neighbor's AFCI breakers to trip!

If you've got random breakers tripping at random times and they trip even with absolutely no loads on the circuit, RFI might be the cause.

If you Google around, you might be able to find whether or not the breakers you have are known to be susceptible to RFI.

iknow_t

join:2012-05-03

1 recommendation

said by TheMG:

Another possibility that hasn't been mentioned yet... some type of AFCI breakers can be susceptible to radio frequency interference (RFI). I've heard of a few amateur radio operators having big problems with this and even causing their neighbor's AFCI breakers to trip!

If you've got random breakers tripping at random times and they trip even with absolutely no loads on the circuit, RFI might be the cause.

If you Google around, you might be able to find whether or not the breakers you have are known to be susceptible to RFI.

lets not put the blame on LICENSED amateur radio operators. it's the fault of the AFCI if that happens, and the AFCI is supposed to ACCEPT that type of interference, and the user is supposed to ACCEPT THAT FACT.. if it's susceptible to RFI, then it could be any source, including life saving communications, aircraft, police, ambulance, fire dept. etc...


rchandra
Stargate Universe fan
Premium
join:2000-11-09
14225-2105
reply to Corehhi
Nope. Code (NEC, at least 2008) says garages are supposed to be GFCI.

laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas
reply to Carpet
We have GFCIs that trip whenever we have t-storms. No AFCIs but I'm interested in this so would like to hear OP whether any of your outlets are "backstabbed" and what loads/lights are using the problem circuits.


Carpet

@70.57.11.x
I am the original poster, a couple of clarifications. These are afci breakers located in the breaker box.

The two breakers in question control lights, in the garage and lights and outlet in the spare bedroom. The lights in the garage can be turned on and after some period of time, it varies from minutes to hours, the breaker will trip. For the spare bedroom, breaker will go back into ready and trigger when the ceiling light in the room is turned on.

The garage breaker has been tripping for months now, the spare bedroom just started a few days ago.

One key point, no backstabbed outlets

Thanks for everyone's input and advice.


Pher9999

join:2011-07-06
Carmel, NY
What type of bulb is in the bedroom ceiling light? Is it HOT in the room? Could just be a loose connection somewhere.

InTheKnow

join:2013-12-17
reply to Carpet
I just ran into a simular problem in my case it was caused by a wire being smashed with a u shaped nail/staple holding the romex to the celing rafter between two smoke detectors.


enon

@50.153.112.x

2 recommendations

said by InTheKnow:

caused by a wire being smashed with a u shaped nail/staple holding the romex to the celing rafter between two smoke detectors.

And this is exactly what the AFCI was designed to do. It performed as expected. I'm willing to bet many of the problems written off as nuisance trips are caused by issues just like this - things that aren't immediately obvious and may never be until it's too late because they're hidden behind walls or ceilings.

laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas
reply to Carpet
You still haven't said enough about the loads. Is the BR ceiling light an incandescent lamp or fluorescent or ...? What kind of lights are connected in the garage? What's plugged-in to the outlets? A door opener?

Looking for loose bulbs in sockets, or loose wires, bad connections, flaky gizmos...

BTW all are AFCI breaker required for both Lighting and Outlet (all) circuits now? When our house was built only BR outlets (it seems) required GFCIs apart from the obvious water-adjacent circuits.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
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This will give you a general idea: »www.leviton.com/OA_HTML/SectionD···on=61250
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.

AricBrown

join:2002-12-11
Amarillo, TX
Reviews:
·Suddenlink
reply to Coma
said by Coma:


You could always replace your current breaker box with a Federal Pacific box since they never trip.

Thats what I have... Actually I have had a breaker trip once..but never since


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8
reply to Carpet
Could also be from bad splicing by the aforementioned 'wire slingers'...

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel
reply to iknow_t
said by iknow_t:

lets not put the blame on LICENSED amateur radio operators.

Never did I say or suggest such a thing, I was merely giving an example of a situation in which breakers susceptible to RFI were tripping.

It could easily be a nearby commercial broadcast station, repeater, etc.

said by iknow_t:

it's the fault of the AFCI if that happens, and the AFCI is supposed to ACCEPT that type of interference, and the user is supposed to ACCEPT THAT FACT.. if it's susceptible to RFI, then it could be any source, including life saving communications, aircraft, police, ambulance, fire dept. etc...

100% correct! It's up to the manufacturers of said breakers to ensure their product is protected against false tripping. If they skimp on the RF filtering, well, that's simply a poor design decision.

PS: I'm a licensed amateur radio operator myself.


Coma
Thanks Steve
Premium
join:2001-12-30
NirvanaLand
kudos:1
reply to AricBrown
said by AricBrown:

said by Coma:


You could always replace your current breaker box with a Federal Pacific box since they never trip.

Thats what I have... Actually I have had a breaker trip once..but never since


I own the house next to mine and it has a Federal Pacific box. One circuit went out last year but the breaker didn't trip and I found a back-stab receptacle to be the culprit.

--
May is National Mental Health Month


DarkLogix
Texan and Proud
Premium
join:2008-10-23
Baytown, TX
kudos:3
said by Coma:

I own the house next to mine and it has a Federal Pacific box. One circuit went out last year but the breaker didn't trip and I found a back-stab receptacle to be the culprit.

I used to have a Federal Pacific box, but well it was unsafe for more than just being a Federal Pacific box (shared breakers and it was stuffed tight with wires and a hornet's nest, or might have been a dirtdobber nest)

Started to have an issue where one leg would drop out (causing 240v stuff to not work or work oddly, and half the house to lose power)

It has since been replaced with a overly large square D panel (I say overly because it has lots of extra slots and came with a 200A main, though after checking the load a 100A main was put in on the same day it was installed, also based on the wire size coming from the pole) The FP panel had a 125A main but it seems the AL wire from the pole wasn't even the right thickness for 125 but only for 100A.
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Parallax
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join:2013-04-18
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Reviews:
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·Time Warner Cable
reply to Carpet
I'm telling you it was a technological step backward when they did away with fuse boxes and if needed you could all ways stick a penny in front of the fuse if they kept overloading.
--
“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”


Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC
Reviews:
·Hargray Cable
said by Parallax:

I'm telling you it was a technological step backward when they did away with fuse boxes and if needed you could all ways stick a penny in front of the fuse if they kept overloading.

LOL. One way or another this thing will work.