How to determine why an AFIC or GFIC breaker tripped?


1 - Get an Electrician.

2 - Reset the breaker & turn back on, then press the Test Button or Procedure & turn it back on to rule out breaker issues. Of course, if it stays on & only trips with the Test then the circuit's expectedly good all the way around...for the moment. The overall Wiring of the circuit is very rarely defective or affected by events such as these, due to breakers. So, you can be fairly confident that the wires in the walls, floors & ceilings are still sound.

3 - Carefully & cautiously remove the Electrical Panel's cover & only visually inspect that everything of the same colors are matching everything else of the same color. Anything visually popped loose will need to be re-attached & the entire panel should be killed with the Main Breaker & all connections screwed tight or confirmed to be tight & that nothing moves when pulled upon. Then, look closer for any signs of black smoky scorch marks anywhere & then for anything being melted or discolored....

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If it's an old A/C unit, replace it with new. They are much more efficient (meaning: same BTU, much lower energy draw) and it'll pay for itself in energy savings. I just saw a no-brand cheapie that was 8000 BTU for 5 amps. The lower current draw means fewer or no breaker trips.

Even an old A/C is unlikely to trip the breaker alone. Most likely it is the "last straw" on an already loaded circuit. Next time it trips, thoroughly survey what else is on that breaker. Research how much current or power each of those loads takes. The best way is with a power meter like a $20 Kill-a-Watt. Measure peak loads while the appliance is "on", e.g. A microwave while it's cooking, a laser printer while it's printing.

To be honest, most consumers have no clue how much energy appliances use. This may be an eye opener. The #1 surprise runs Microsoft Windows. A lot of PCs are sold with 850 watt power supplies which can take as much as 1200 watts, though this depends on what the computer...

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Standard circuit breakers are not designed to trip instantaneously for all loads. Breakers are designed with time curves they must meet, and for anything but the highest currents there is a noticeable delay from seconds to hours.

Schneider Electric PDF: Your brand/type of breakers could differ from this chart, but the concepts are largely the same for most magnetic circuit breakers.

Here's some math provided by Tester101 in the comments below:

14 gauge solid uncoated copper is 0.00307 ohms per foot. A 100 ft. run of #14 would be 0.614 ohms (200 ft. * 0.00307 = 0.614 ohms). According to Mr. Ohm, Current (I) = Volts (V) / Resistance (R). Therefore a direct short would be 195.44 amperes (120 V / 0.614 = 195.44 A). Which is 13 times a 15 ampere circuit, so it should trip within 2-3 seconds. Even with a 200 ft. 20 ampere circuit, it would be 310.88 amperes (200 * 0.00193 = 0.386 120 / 0.386 = 310.88) . Which is 15 times rated current, and again 2-3 seconds...

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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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The hot water heater should come with an amperage rating on it.

They vary from 30 to 40 amps, and then 10 or 8 gauge wire.

(All hot water heaters are 220 volt.)

I believe the 602 uses a 4500 watt element.

Divide 4500 by 220, and you get about 20 amps.

If you want to be on the safe side, you go with the heavier wire, 8 gauge, and then go with the smaller breaker that is more easily tripped, 30 amps. That way you can switch to a 40 amp breaker in the future, without having to change the wiring. The goal is to always make sure the wire is rated higher than the breaker. You want you breaker to trip before your wire melts.
But technically a 30 amp breaker and 10 gauge wire would be fine for this heater.

And since it is 220 volt, you will always use a double breaker.
That is because 220 volt appliances don't use a ground, but instead use the potential between to power wires that are 180 degrees out of phase. AC always does a sine wave,...

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Going outside to mess with your tripped circuit breaker over and over gets annoying after awhile.

A circuit breaker “trips” or shuts off the electrical flow to protect the circuit from overheating and causing damage--even possibly an electrical fire.

So, before you go and flip the switch on again, take a moment to determine what the root cause is of the tripping.

The three typical causes are:

Overloaded Circuit Short Circuit Ground Fault

Circuit Overload

The circuit overloading is the most common reason your circuit breaker is tripping.

That means you’re running too many heavy power consuming devices at the same time on the same circuit.

For example, if you have a 15 amp circuit with 20 amps worth of electricity running through that same circuit because your hair dryer, TV and air conditioner were all on at the same time, then the circuit breaker will trip to prevent overheating.

There are two solutions:

Redistribute the...
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When all the lights and appliances along a single circuit go dark at the same time, it is almost always because the circuit breaker or fuse controlling that circuit has tripped or burned out. In older homes, the electrical service panel will have a group of fuses that control and protect the circuits, but it is more likely that your home has an electrical service panel with a series of lever-operated circuit breakers that control the circuits. Whatever the nature of your service panel, the... breakers or fuses serve to automatically shut off power to the circuit wires if something goes wrong. In the case of circuit breakers, the immediate answer is to find the breaker that has "tripped" and reset the lever to the ON position. With a fuse, a metal filament inside the fuse has burned through, and you'll need to replace the fuse with a new one.

But it is important that you understand why the breaker has tripped or the fuse has blown to avoid having it happen again. In rare...

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Determining which outlet in a circuit is the first one necessarily involves exposing conductors which are (or may be) live, and is inherently hazardous. Quite frankly - and no offense intended - if you need to ask that question, you probably shouldn't be trying to do that yet. First, head to your local library (or, for that matter, Home Depot or Lowe's) and get a book or two on residential electrical wiring. This isn't brain surgery, but there's a bit more to it than meets the eye. Nobody wants you to turn into a crispy critter.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?

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You need to take the cover off at the main panel and check the voltage with a volt meter at each breaker. The one breaker that does not have voltage is the one that is either tripped or is broken. Some breakers can be tripped but look as if they are still on. Make sure you turn it to the off position before turning it to the on position.

If voltage is found leaving each breaker, then I would suspect a bad connection either in the box you are referring to, or in another receptacle box. The bad connection can be in a box that is working. I realize that you mentioned servers and multiple items running and cannot shut down. You will have to wait until such a time that you can shut down in order to safely remove covers to receptacles and look for a bad connection. Look for either a bad connection on the receptacle, or under a wire nut. Do not be afraid (with the power off) to pull on those wire nuts to verify that all wires are connected well.

One more thing. Have you verified...

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First, unplug the vacuum cleaner.
Second, reset the breaker. This is where most people have problems. The breaker may be in a tripped position and needs to be reset. Try turning the breaker to the off position to reset it, then to the on position to turn it back on. From the information you gave, this may be your immediate problem.

Sometimes, if the receptacle is ground fault protected, they will trip when some of the current is "leaking" to the ground wire. You may need to look for a receptacle that has tripped. They usually have two buttons in the middle. Push one button to test or trip the receptacle, then push the other button to reset the receptacle. This type of receptacle can be wired in such a way that all receptacles down line from this one will be off if this one receptacle trips.

Now, after power has been restored to this circuit, we need to determine why the breaker tripped. There are at least two possible reasons why the circuit breaker...

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Determining the cause of the overload of the electrical circuit is essential. This guide is about

troubleshooting why a circuit breaker keeps tripping



Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

Question: Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

We have a 15 amp breaker that keeps tripping. This is something that just started happening. This is what feeds off that breaker: livingroom lights, 2 TVs, kitchen lights, fridge, washer, dryer, master bedroom, guest bathroom, laundryroom lights, all porch lights, and a new gas heater with an electronic ignition and fan. This is a 1977 doublewide mobile home. What could suddenly cause this to happen and is it dangerous?

By Kim from Silver Springs, NV



January 6, 20110 found this helpful

Best Answer

You bet your bippy that's...

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Tripped circuit breaker: many of us have experienced them at some point in our homes, yet instead of asking ourselves, “Why Do Breakers Trip?”, we reset the breaker without much thought. Before flipping the switch back over to the “ON” position, however, it’s important to understand why the breaker tripped in the first place, and what can be done to keep it from happening again.

As a Top Dallas Electrician, ElectricMan Inc. understands the danger of ignoring the warning signs of a tripped circuit breaker. But first, you need to know what a breaker does and how it works.

The Job of the Circuit Breaker

Simply put, a home or business circuit breaker is a safety device that monitors the amount of electrical current going through the electrical wires in your home and shuts off the circuit if too much electricity is being pulled through it, or if there is any disturbance in the current that could result in a fire.

Whereas a fuse performs the same task but can...

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You may have some EMI chokes in the surge suppressor extension cord. Some AFI are too sensitive and plugging in some devices cause initial current surge to charge up filter caps that the AFI thinks is an arc. Ferrite inductor interference chokes in the surge suppressor may be enough to filter out the initial, plug in surge current so the AFI does not see enough of the surge to cause it to trip.
Siemen's seems to be working on getting better standards set up for specifying and testing AFCI's. This would include noise bandwidth and trip time integration specifications. Presently UL uses a crude contact arc test relay to evaluate performance.

I have heard of the neon 'candle flame simulating' candalabra bulbs causing an AFI to trip. Also some triac based dimmers and fan speed controllers cause problem trips. Triac dimmers/speed controllers should have EMI chokes to filter out their abrupt switching. Some cheap ones don't have enough filtering on the input AC lines. It is also...

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An arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) is a circuit breaker* located in your electrical panel that serves the functions of a normal breaker but also senses hazardous arcing on its circuit and will trip off for this. It can be identified by the special colored test-button near its handle. (Ground-fault breakers also have a button, so read with a magnifying glass to be sure which kind your breaker is.)

*A different device is now allowed away from your breaker panel. It resembles the familiar GFCI receptacles. (Its installation is more strict, however.) It is called an "outlet/ branch-circuit type of AFCI" or simply AFCI outlet or AFCI receptacle.

AFCI breakers began to be required by Code in 2002 for new wiring supplying bedrooms. The areas to be protected were expanded in 2008 (where that national Code has been adopted locally) to most rooms of the home. The areas left out of the requirement were garage, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry; these were already...

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