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Old 12-08-2009, 05:22 PM   #1
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Default WTF these Arc-fault breakers!!

Sorry if this has come up (I'm sure it has) I'm an FNG this is my first post found this site 10 minutes ago.
We are having A LOT of warranty calls about GE combo arc-faults tripping. The circuit is fine until Home owners try and use- new TVs, computers, phone chargers, vacumes, humidifiers, fluorescent lights etc...
We also use square D and have had similar problems but nothing like the GEs. I've called the GE arc-fault hot line and they admit there's potential to trip with these appliances however they are very un-helpful with any suggestions about how to solve the problem.

Anyone else starting to have these problems? We are one of the first in this area (Denver) to go with the 08 code and all the extra ach-faults. That along with working for Richmond homes, who are turning houses out VERY quickly. I'm thinking we are at the tip of the spearhead of a very big problem here.

Any news from anyone about this ...?
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:28 PM   #2
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When you rough the place in, you need to megger out all the circuits. That will identify the problems that may get covered up by the walls, like damaged cables, over-driven staples and the like.

Meg them out again before you start trimming out to make sure someone hasn't driven a nail or screw into the cable.

Then start trimming out.

If you have a circuit that keeps tripping an AFCI, you need to start troubleshooting it. Is it ANY load that trips it, or a specific load? Will that load trip if plugged into another circuit?
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:42 PM   #3
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I have used GE for many years and have been installing the combo arc faults for some time and never had a problem.

I seem to recall that sq.D had a big problem in the Denver area and they discovered that the problem was related to the power company signature voltage. Apparently the sine wave was flattened at the top which caused havoc on the arc faults.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
When you rough the place in, you need to megger out all the circuits. That will identify the problems that may get covered up by the walls, like damaged cables, over-driven staples and the like.

Meg them out again before you start trimming out to make sure someone hasn't driven a nail or screw into the cable.


Then start trimming out.

If you have a circuit that keeps tripping an AFCI, you need to start troubleshooting it. Is it ANY load that trips it, or a specific load? Will that load trip if plugged into another circuit?

Is this really feasible? ow you must 'complete' the ckt on rough?
How much time (read money) does this add to the already over-tight job?

Great to do do,document,makes back charge a lot easier.

Good Idea,but in practical application?
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:10 PM   #5
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Is this really feasible? ow you must 'complete' the ckt on rough?
How much time (read money) does this add to the already over-tight job?

Great to do do,document,makes back charge a lot easier.

Good Idea,but in practical application?
megger the circuits that are tripping
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:24 PM   #6
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sorry to hear it man. i was helping a guy in boulder finish a custom house that had problems with nuisance tripping on arc faults because of the transformers for the rail lighting in the house. it was a real pain in the butt to re-wire everything.
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:29 PM   #7
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megger the circuits that are tripping

Oh,I understood that,perfect sense.
I was referring to megger at rough.
There is a variety of problems with the Arc faults.
Most common that I see are motor driven,vacuum etc. mostly,beleive it or not,Smoke detectors.
Perhaps just shoddy mass production issues (smokes).
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
When you rough the place in, you need to megger out all the circuits. That will identify the problems that may get covered up by the walls, like damaged cables, over-driven staples and the like.

Meg them out again before you start trimming out to make sure someone hasn't driven a nail or screw into the cable.

Then start trimming out.

If you have a circuit that keeps tripping an AFCI, you need to start troubleshooting it. Is it ANY load that trips it, or a specific load? Will that load trip if plugged into another circuit?
When I was in the Navy, we meggered all the motors, topside lighting...etc.
In a residence, do you megger hot to neutral, hot to ground or both?
What voltage do you apply? 250Volt?
What values do you expect on a good install; infinite or do you have a specific minimum number?
Thanks,
Rick
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:28 PM   #9
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We had trouble with CH arc fault breakers in the past. We found that there was a lot of heat buildup if the AFCI breakers where placed next to each other. By spacing them out the heat was able to dissipate and the majority of the problems went away. Heat could be an issue to consider in your case as well, something to check next time.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:27 PM   #10
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I installed a GE 20 amp arc fault breaker today that was literally an exact match for a Siemens except it had a GE sticker on it.
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:36 AM   #11
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BTW....

Welcome to the forum!!!
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
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I installed a GE 20 amp arc fault breaker today that was literally an exact match for a Siemens except it had a GE sticker on it.
Have you got a picture of that breaker? I ask because all the GE ones I ever saw have two paddle rocker test buttons on them and Siemens has two blue push buttons for testing.

I had problems with Cuttler "Combo" ark faults in the past. I say past cause I switched to Siemens panels and no more problems so far.
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:05 PM   #13
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I don't have a picture but i could probably take one at Menards. They had another one that looked the same. The 15 amp arc fault I bought looked like the normal GE one with the paddle it was just the 20 amp that was a Siemens match.
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:10 PM   #14
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http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...7X-_-100674086
Here's the one I had only it was 20 amp

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Old 12-09-2009, 07:24 PM   #15
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Not that I am accusing the OP of this but I am baffled at the amount of "electricians", and electricians helpers that don't understand that you need to make sure you keep downstream grounded conductors separated. More often than not I bet this is what is causing many of the issues with arc-faults.....speaking of which I am in the middle of estimating my first addition that I will have to use AF breakers and TP recepts. Oh joy.....
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:59 AM   #16
 
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Default arcfault problems

Could you elaborate on "keeping down stream grounded conductors seperated" thank's.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:10 AM   #17
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Could you elaborate on "keeping down stream grounded conductors seperated" thank's.
I'd guess that means, "don't share neutrals with other circuits".
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:22 PM   #18
 
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Default arcfault

Thank's,Buzzkill.The reason I had asked is my son told me if any of the grounding conductors made contact with grounded ones that it would trip.I/m talking bare end of conductors,like if too much of neutral was exposed from wingnut and made contact with ground.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:24 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by snorky View Post
Thank's,Buzzkill.The reason I had asked is my son told me if any of the grounding conductors made contact with grounded ones that it would trip.I/m talking bare end of conductors,like if too much of neutral was exposed from wingnut and made contact with ground.
That would trip an AFCI.
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Old 12-10-2009, 02:19 PM   #20
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I believe there is a recall on ge arc-fault breakers, I'm in the process of buying a house and I have to sign something about it with every offer. I can't remember the details so i could be way off. I'll try to find it and post back
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