Tripping the AFCI fantastic

AFCI circuit breakers have recently come into vogue with building codes (with good reason). AFCI stands for Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter and protects against Arcs “sparks” that lead to heated circuit conditions that cause fires. These arcs happen for instance with frayed or pinched cords. AFCI protection is now IRC and NEC required specification for new projects in basically every “live-able” space such as bedroom and living room areas.

Remember…

AFCI and GFCI should NOT share their neutral at any point in the circuit with other circuits. If 2 or more AFCI or GFCI “share neutrals” they will constantly trip.

This was my big failure when I installed one during completing my addition. I originally had everything wired up and connected to the existing circuit with a standard breaker. The inspector asked me to make sure the AFCI was included before final inspection so I popped one in the disconnect panel and it started tripping immediately and I couldn’t get it to stop.

It turned out one of the outlet boxes had a circuit for the AFCI neutral mixed with another circuit. I took the neutral off and and added an extra wire nut to separate the circuits into two separate neutrals in the box. Immediately the circuit worked correctly. Went back and looked at the instructions. Directions worked…AMAZING!!

Notes:

PLEASE USE your mains disconnect for the whole breaker box when working on replacing breakers. It takes very little current to kill. It’s worth it to stay alive!

Combo AFCI/GFCI now exist. For the extra few dollars it’s worth getting both types of protection for your home on the same circuit.

All protected outlets need to be labeled.

New breakers come with a set of stickers for your protected circuits. They don’t look terrible and they help you meet code effortlessly. Use them!

You can usually get breakers on Amazon for better prices than the big box stores. Pay close attention to the reviews and EXACT part numbers or you will be returning or reordering.

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