AFCI breaker ...recommendation question.

I have been recommending upgrading bedroom circuits to AFCI breakers
for all the older homes I encounter…A recommended upgrade ( not a requirement ). A client called me today and said that its impossible to add
a AFCI breakers to the bedroom circuits…on a 3 wire system, 14 gauge wire.
Im not a licensed electrical contractor so I could not argue back.

Is this guy speaking the truth? The house was built in 1987. A
track home in Southern Calif.


Not every panelboard manufacturer makes AFCI breakers that can operate on a 3-wire, multi-wire branch circuit (MWBC). Eventually they all will but some do not as of right now. One other issue with installing them on an old system. If there’s a bootleg ground (being used as a neutral somewhere) or a downstream neutral/ground connection the AFCI CB will not work. This could lead to hours or days of troubleshooting to find the problem.

That in and of itself is a problem worth recommending the UPGRADE. The breakers should only be installed in boxes manufactured for them what is wrong with installing the AFCI outlet again? I have no concern with the expense or difficulty involved in correcting a deficiency in an electrical system. If it is wrong fix it.

I think that what David is saying is that he recommends AFCI’s on older systems for safety. There’s no requirement for someone to actually install them. Same thing for GFCI devices. If houses were required to be brought up to the current code every time the place was sold electricians would never be out of work. :smiley:

If you truely meant AFCI outlet as in a AFCI receptacle, you cannot not install what has not hit the market yet. As far as I know the AFCI receptacle is still an electrical unicorn.

Another issue is when two neutrals are connected in a junction box or light switch box that are on different circuits the new AFCI will not reset.

I recommend AFCI’s in older homes, it is a recommendation only, take it or leave it.


I definitely agree with your reasoning…Recommending a new roof
is expensive too, but it needs to be done.

Yes…Im going to keep on doing it.

That is the difference in thinking between a Tradesman and an Inspector.

I call out all sorts of stuff because it is old and not as safe as things are today.
Do people have to follow my recommendations?? No, they do not.

But where the trouble starts is where a Tradesman follows me and tell the Clients that the recommendation is not required, which technically is true. What they do not tell the client though is more often than not, the reason for the changes in the code or installation practice is because the newer application is safer.

I always tell people to change out the Transite Vent pipe passing through attics… it is not safe.

I always tell people to put Smoke Detectors in all Bedrooms, for increased Safety.

I always tell people to get at least one Carbon Monoide Detector in a residence that has Gas Appliances and or Fireplaces…

The list goes on… Are any of these things required in my area for an older home by any sort of Code/Law? No, they are not, but I would be remiss not to give the client the Information and let them decide exactly what they think their personal level of risk is.

By the by my Parents still live in a nice 1940’s home with very few safety upgrades and Asbestos Roofing and Siding. (i did get them to change out the transite vent piping) :smiley:

I agree with you. People will usually listen until they hear now much something costs and then they stop listening. Hard wired, line voltage, battery backup smoke alarms are a good example. When some hears that it will cost a few thousand dollars to install the new system suddenly those old ones with the dead batteries don’t look so bad. :wink:

Hhahahahha Exactly. :smiley:

Yes, but then the client has made their own conscious, informed decision, based on their own priorities. The inspector has essentially assigned the liability for that decision to the client and made them responsible for their own due diligence.