How to determine if a circuit breaker has GFCI



Determine the structure type. If circuits are installed in a space for use other than a dwelling unit, AFCI is not required (commercial and industrial spaces are not required to have AFCI protection). AFCI protection is required only in dwelling units (apartments, homes, manufactured homes, RVs and mobile homes).


Identify circuit destinations. All 120 volt / 15 or 20 amp branch circuits supplying outlets (includes both lighting outlets and receptacle outlets) in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sun rooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc fault circuit interrupter. This means that nearly every habitable space in new homes are required to have this protection.


Determine if an exemption applies. Most fire and smoke alarm systems are prohibited from being connected to GFCI or AFCI circuits. Absent from the list of...

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A ground fault circuit breaker is properly called a ground-fault circuit-interrupter breaker, or simply a GFCI breaker. I installs into a home's service panel, or breaker box, and provides GFCI protection for the entire branch circuit it serves. This installation is commonly used as an alternative to installing GFCI receptacles (outlets) in specific locations where they are required by the local electrical code.

A GFCI breaker installs much like a standard single-pole circuit breaker, but there are some important differences to be aware of. Also, the new GFCI breaker must be the proper type and brand for the service panel.

Warning: Installing a circuit breaker involves working near equipment carrying deadly levels of electrical current. While the main circuit breaker and all of the branch circuits in the service panel will be shut off for the GFCI breaker installation, the incoming conductors from the utility service and the terminals on the main breaker will remain...

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Reset the breaker by turning it off and then turning it on again.

A possible reason for your breaker to trip may be overload. This means you placed too much power on the circuit and caused it to trip. Eliminate the overload before you proceed. If an appliance caused the circuit to trip when you plugged it in, unplug the appliance before you reset the push button circuit breaker. You will need to find another location to plug in that appliance or you will continue to experience an overload.

Step 1

Go to the panel and locate the breaker. The breaker will be the one that is tripped. Tripped means the breaker has flipped to the "Off" position. Cut the breaker completely off, then turn the breaker back on. Push the button on the breaker and the breaker should trip.

Step 2

Reset the breaker by turning it back on. If this is an arc fault breaker, take the arc fault tester to the bedroom. Plug the tester in an electrical socket and press the button on the...

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If more electrical items that are attached to the circuit turn on when the breaker switch is set to the on position, then the problem does not lie with the breaker. However, if more electrical items turn off and stay off when the breaker is moved from the off to the on position, then proceed to the next test.

Remove the wire from the breaker in question, and test the breaker with a voltmeter. If the voltmeter reads that there is a current running through the breaker, then the breaker is not bad. If no voltage registers on the voltmeter, then the breaker needs to be replaced.

If a voltmeter is not available, connect a light bulb to the breaker screw and the ground within the panel. If the light bulb turns on, the breaker is not the problem.

Another test to determine if a breaker is bad involves taking the wire that is hooked into the breaker and connecting it to another working breaker. If the electrical items connected to the wire's circuit turn on, the...

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How to determine and correct problems which cause breakers to trip.

Most of the time a circuit breaker trips people simple go to their electrical panel find the offending breaker and reset it. But what happens when the breaker does not reset, or trips often, you can troubleshoot the problem yourself and depending on the problem, repair it or hire an electrician to do the repair for you. Circuit breakers are designed to trip, unlike older fuses in a fuse box that are designed to melt a thin metal strip, and turn off power whenever the following potentially dangerous situations occur:

• Overloaded Circuit

• Short Circuit

• Ground Fault

Types of Breakers

There are three types of residential circuit breakers; magnetic circuit breaker, thermal circuit breaker, and thermal magnetic circuit breaker.

Magnetic circuit breakers are equipped with an electromagnet that gets increasingly strong as the flow of electricity increases. The magnet...

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[Summary]How to Test a Circuit Breaker with a Voltage Tester Remove the cover from the service panel. You'll see your circuit breakers (and they're all clearly labeled, of course). Always take safety precautions: Wear rubber shoes when you work on a control p


How to Test a Circuit Breaker with a Voltage Tester

Remove the cover from the service panel.

You’ll see your circuit breakers (and they’re all clearly labeled, of course).

Always take safety precautions: Wear rubber shoes when you work on a control panel and make sure the floor underneath the panel is dry.

Testing A Bad Circuit Breaker

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How To Tell If A Circuit Breaker Is Bad - Circuit Breaker Basics

by Michael Chotiner

Is there a circuit breaker in your home service panel that frequently trips? If your answer is yes, do you know why? There are a number of possible causes, from an...

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After 30 years, it's possible that the breaker is bad. But I don't consider this the most likely answer.

The solution is to divide and conquer. First, find everything controlled by this breaker. You have mentioned three outlets, but make sure that there aren't more. Check every unfinished and outdoor outlet. This includes the basement, garage, front porch, back porch, etc. Many people have outlets in their garage that they don't even know are there because they've put storage in front of them and haven't seen them for 20 years.

Once you find all the outlets, the thing to suspect is moisture. The moisture may have come from rain or snow, the shower, tub, spashed sink water, the hose, etc. After making sure the breaker is off, take the cover plate off each outlet and see if it is 100% dry inside.

Next you might suspect any recent nails or screws. Have you recently hung a picture? Mounted a bookshelf? Had the house resided? Stuff like that.

If all that...

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There are a few different criteria to consider when selecting a circuit breaker including voltage, frequency, interrupting capacity, continuous current rating, unusual operating conditions and product testing. This article will give a step by step overview on selecting an appropriate circuit breaker for your specific application.

Voltage Rating

The overall voltage rating is calculated by the highest voltage that can be applied across all end ports, the distribution type and how the circuit breaker is directly integrated into the system. It is important to select a circuit breaker with enough voltage capacity to meet the end application.


Circuit breakers up to 600 amps can be applied to frequencies of 50-120 Hz. Higher than 120 Hz frequencies will end up with the breaker having to derate. During higher frequency projects, the eddy currents and iron losses causes greater heating within the thermal trip components thus requiring...

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Prevention from Shock Hazards

What is a GFCI

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) can help prevent electrocution. If a person’s body starts to receive a shock, the GFCI senses this and cuts off the power before he/she can get injured.

GFCIs are generally installed where electrical circuits may accidentally come into contact with water. They are most often found in kitchens, bath and laundry rooms, or even out-of-doors or in the garage where electric power tools might be used.

What is a ground fault?

According to the National Electrical Code, a “ground fault” is a conducting connection (whether intentional or accidental) between any electric conductor and any conducting material that is grounded or that may become grounded. Electricity always wants to find a path to the ground. In a ground fault, electricity has found a path to ground, but it is a path the electricity was never intended to be on, such as through a person’s body.

Because of...

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HOME SitemapInfo and Troubleshooting

There are often special looking electrical receptacles in bathrooms or kitchens that have "Test" and "Reset" buttons -- often black and red -- on them. Video. These are ground-fault circuit interrupters -- GFCIs or GFIs. Their purpose is to protect people from electrocution. They do not prevent shock altogether, only deadly shock. And they do not prevent overloads on the circuit. That is the job of a circuit breaker at the main panel. See my GFCI article. (What is the little light on some GFIs?)

Why Can't I Reset? Is GFCI Bad or Is There a Ground-Fault?
GFI Outlet Diagram -- Hooking Up
Is an Unknown GFCI the Cause of an Outage?
Finding a Tripped GFCI Receptacle
Confusing Terms: GFCI, GFI, Load, etc.

Bad GFCI or a Ground-Fault? -- Troubleshooting

Is a GFI tripping for a ground-fault? If you are pretty sure you need to troubleshoot a ground-fault itself, you may want to go to

Tripped GFI -- Why?


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AFCI BREAKER GFCI BREAKER Commonly found in homes built over 55 years ago Began appearing in homes built in the 1960's First-generation AFCI protection required by the 1999 NEC The 2005 NEC phased out Branch/Feeder AFCIs as of January 1, 2008 for new construction and remodels. Today most circuits should have AFCI protection The first GFCI breaker was introduced around 1968 and the first receptacle type in 1972 Basic Fire Prevention Basic Fire Prevention Moderate Fire Prevention Enhanced Fire Prevention Prevents Shocks Uses a filament that melts when overloaded Trips when an electrical current exceeds levels determined by the breaker's ratings. Trips when a parallel arc between the hot and neutral conductors is detected Provides same protection as Branch/Feeder AFCIs and detects lower level series arcing in both branch circuits and power supply cords Trips when an...
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Large power overloads may potentially destroy electrical equipment, or in more serious cases, cause a fire. A fuse and circuit breaker both serve to protect an overloaded electrical circuit by interrupting the continuity, or the flow of electricity. How they interrupt the flow of electricity is very different, however. A fuse is made up of a piece of metal that melts when overheated; a circuit breaker has an internal switch mechanism that is tripped by an unsafe surge of electricity. Fuses tend to be quicker to interrupt the flow of power, but must be replaced after they melt, while circuit breakers can usually simply be reset.

How Fuses Work

There are many different types of fuses for residential and commercial use, but the most common type is made up of a metal wire or filament that is enclosed in a glass or ceramic and metal casing. In a home, the fuse is typically plugged into a central fuse box where all the building’s wiring passes through. When the electricity...

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