AFCI use, and testing

I have been doing inspections on, and off for 30 years, mostly family, and friends. In that time I have yet to encounter an AFCI outlet, or breaker. I am now getting more serious about doing inspections, and I am curious, how often does everyone actually encounter an AFCI, and how do you test. Do you use a tester, as I have read several articles that seem to indicate that the AFCI testers do not trip them, or just the push button. If the push button is the go to, why do we use the GFCI tester as a go to over just using the button?? I am also having difficultly locating an AFCI tester locally, is that because they are so unreliable??

All the time, it is a requirement going forward where the new code is adopted. The only proper way to test it is via the test button on the breaker. If the house is not vacant, many will not test them for fear they may turn some computer off or grandpa’s oxygen.


Agreed, they’re everywhere (and in new homes almost all breakers are AFCI breakers), and the test is to simply push the built-in “test” button.


I don’t mean to judge the veracity of your building inspections but not running into an AFCI after 30 years? I calculate about 50% of the panel boards I inspect are missing AFCI breakers or form of AFCI protection. Remember, the AFCI can be a device such as a receptacle slaving receptacles on the circuit downstream .
Testing AFCI Breakers.
With the breaker in the on position, 'and at least one device turned on in the circuit, press down on the AFCI TEST button. The AFCI breaker should trip and move the switch to the OFF position, or the middle (TRIP) position if there is one. If the breaker trips when you press the (TEST) button, and there is not current in the circuit, the AFCI is Functional.

LEVITON Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI)

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Mr. Young
Thank you for your reply, and the test procedure you supplied. As my post stated, most of my inspections, up until recently have been for close family, and friends. The area I live in consists mostly of post WWII homes (my childhood home had quarry stone for a foundation and was well over 100 years old in the 70’s). These are homes that may have only seen 2 owners in the time since they were built, and all need electric, plumbing, insulation, and heat upgrades to some degree. Rest assured that all of this is documented, including the lack of AFCI protection in the inspection report.
I have been getting more requests for inspections, so have decided to do more of them just as a part time side job, but want my certification first, before I start advertising, as Michigan has no regulatory requirements for home inspectors.
Thanks for your input, it really is appreciated, and I welcome any, and all advice!

I run across them all the time, I go off the panel labeling and normally do not test them on occupied properties. With everyone working at home, I’m afraid of cutting power to their wireless routers, etc. I do note in my report that I do not, nor required to test the breakers.