Agreed on the added risk. However, it is why HI’s have insurance and we do this all the time when testing GFCI’s which all SOP’s require.
So basically if the AFCI is tripped and wont reset then you have done your job and you just might have helped locate a potential problem as this is not for us to make that guess.
In the future as the industry developes we will see this issue be wide spread as some say not to test the GFCI and some say test the GFCI and some say dont test the AFCI and some say test it.
My personal opinion ( and AGAIN it is MY opinion ) i believe all GFCI’s and AFCI’s should be tested at the device ( breaker ) and if they function you have done your task. Now the use of a external testing device is an added bonus but not mandatory.
We kinda hve to take the manufactures at face value here and establish a trust in them and the technology but out testing them CAN find problematic issues.
Kinda like GFCI’s in a high prone lightning area and surge area…the MOV on the GFCI can fail to do it’s job and the GFCI remains closed and still works and appears to be fine unless someone TRIES to reset…and then you notice the defective GFCI…I think we simply have a duty to test them when they are available and present.
recommending AFCI’s to clients is totally a choice the HI has to make…it is not required and the HI again will have to make that personal choice.
Here is my personal method for testing AFCI’s in newer homes i inspect. I actually test the bedrooms as normal and do not TRIP the AFCI on them until which point I get to the panel for it’s inspection. once I am done I TRIP the AFCI’s at the panel and then visit the bedrooms with a ticker to simply verify they are dead, and to make sure the lights on that room are dead and so on.
I am not doing this to check anything other than that as I checked the circuit wiring itself in the room with my tester when I was actually in the bedroom before.
Anti-Bashing Disclaimer -
This method isolates the AFCI and only takes an extra few minutes to do this…again for those who WISH to make a BASHING deal out of my method…again it is MY method…people are FREE to do it any way they wish…I have my ways and my ways will NEVER change unless I am PROVEN they are not a proper method.