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  1. #1
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    Mar 2007
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    Default AFCI Tester Trips Bedroom GFCI Breaker

    The title of this thread may not make perfect sense. I will explain in detail below.

    On yesterday's inspection I ran across a bedroom that had a couple of odd electrical issues. The 4-bedroom house was built in 2004. Inside the main panel were 5 AFCI breakers and a single GFCI breaker. When I tested the outlets in one particular bedroom I pressed the AFCI test button on my tester and the outlet went dead. When I went to the main panel to reset the AFCI breaker I found the GFCI breaker had tripped. I reset the GFCI breaker and tested the outlet again with the AFCI test button. Same result - it tripped the GFCI breaker. When I tested the outlets with the GFCI test button it would not trip the GFCI breaker. (The AFCI tester tripped AFCI breakers in the other bedrooms.)

    Also, I discovered that the lights in an adjacent bathroom were on the same circuit as the bedroom outlets. Maybe this is how this circuit ended up being protected by a GFCI breaker.

    My questions are:

    1) Why does my AFCI tester trip this GFCI breaker but my GFCI tester does not trip it?

    2) Is this bedroom wired improperly? Should the GFCI breaker be replaced with an AFCI breaker?

    3) Should the bedroom outlets be on the same circuit as the bathroom lights?

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    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: AFCI Tester Trips Bedroom GFCI Breaker

    There is no Code prohibition about having the bathroom lights on the same circuit as the bedroom.

    You tested the AFCI breaker and the receptacles went dead. That sounds like the AFCI tripped. I don't know if the tester was causing interference with the GFI or not.

    I hope you know that the only recognized test of a AFCI is the test button.

    If they were on different circuits your GFI tester would not trip it. Did you turn off the GFI to determine if this effected the bedroom receptacles?

    Also the GFI trip level on a AFCI is not the same as a GFI breaker or receptacle.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: AFCI Tester Trips Bedroom GFCI Breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    I hope you know that the only recognized test of a AFCI is the test button.

    If they were on different circuits your GFI tester would not trip it. Did you turn off the GFI to determine if this effected the bedroom receptacles?
    Before testing any outlets I always inspect the main panel. I tested all AFCI and GFCI breakers by pressing the test buttons. Later, when testing the outlets, when the GFCI breaker was tripped the outlets at the bedroom were dead. Sorry if I did not make that clear.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  4. #4
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: AFCI Tester Trips Bedroom GFCI Breaker

    Sounds like the installer just got the 2 adjacent circuits confused and installed the wrong breaker on the wire.

    The bedroom should be AFCI, not GFI.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: AFCI Tester Trips Bedroom GFCI Breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Breedlove View Post
    1) Why does my AFCI tester trip this GFCI breaker but my GFCI tester does not trip it?
    The AFCI *INDICATOR* (it is not really a "tester", the only AFCI "tester" is the push button on the breaker hits the circuit with about 50 ma, which will trip a GFCI.

    Just not sure how the two are interconnected, though.

    2) Is this bedroom wired improperly? Should the GFCI breaker be replaced with an AFCI breaker?
    Yes, if the GFCI breaker is 'supposed to be' protecting the outlets that an AFCI breaker should be protecting.

    3) Should the bedroom outlets be on the same circuit as the bathroom lights?
    Nothing against code about that. Nothing really wrong with it either.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: AFCI Tester Trips Bedroom GFCI Breaker

    Jerry,

    Any idea why the GFCI breaker did not trip when I "tested" it with the GFCI button on my outlet tester? (It trips when I press the AFCI button but not the GFCI button.)

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: AFCI Tester Trips Bedroom GFCI Breaker

    Bruce,

    First, when it tripped with your AFCI tester, were you testing on that circuit or another circuit - that is what I was not clear about in your first post and the reason for some of my confusion in my first reply.

    *IF* you were testing the GFCI circuit with the AFCI, and not on another circuit, that fully explains why the GFCI tripped and ends my confusion.

    If the GFCI does not trip with a GFCI tester plugged into a receptacle on the same circuit, the GFCI is either defective or wired line/load reversed (like the old ones used to be wired).

    Regardless, though, it sounds like that circuit should have had AFCI protection, in which case the breaker needs to be changed out. It is entirely possible that the electrician did not have enough AFCI breakers on his truck and he popped in a GFCI to pass inspection and see if he could fool the inspector, then (deliberately or accidentally) left it there.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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