Arc Fault Breakers in Panel

Originally Posted By: apolillo
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Fellow Inspectors,


I have done several new construction, 11 month walkthrough’s in the past month. In each case, arc fault breakers were in use for all the bedrooms. In one case the house was empty, no load on these breakers. All of these are Square D. So, why is it that the breakers are warm to the touch? Probably about 100-110 degrees.


The other breakers are room temp; cold to the touch. I know there was a recall on some of these, but these were installed after the notice.


I wrote it up for evaluation (ok, Jeff).


Any one else notice this?


Anatol


Originally Posted By: jpope
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Arc fault breakers have a built in sensor (much like a processor) that will generate heat even with no load on the circuit. You may notice that usually no more than two AFCI breakers are placed next to each other in the panel precisely for that reason (heat buildup).


When the home is vacant, it's a good time to see that all branch circuits of the bedrooms are AFCI protected. Tripping the AFCI should shut down all power to the bedrooms.

Occasionally, I have found a lone receptacle still energized.


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: apolillo
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Jeff,


In this case four were lined up together.


Thanks,
Anatol


Originally Posted By: bkelly2
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Jeff, how do you trip the ARC fault breakers, using the test button? I am curious as I do not usualy trip any breakers and have never tested the ARC fault protection. Maybe I should be adding this to my inspections?



“I used to be disgusted, Now I try to Be amused”-Elvis Costello

Originally Posted By: jpope
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apolillo wrote:
In this case four were lined up together.


I would recommend that they be separated to no more than two in contact (I believe that Square D requires it per their listing instructions).

bkelly2 wrote:
Jeff, how do you trip the ARC fault breakers, using the test button? I am curious as I do not usualy trip any breakers and have never tested the ARC fault protection. Maybe I should be adding this to my inspections?


Don't trip them if the house is occupied - period.

If/when you do get the opportunity, use the test button on the breaker or the AFCI function on your SureTest.


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: bkelly2
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jpope wrote:

Don't trip them if the house is occupied - period.

If/when you do get the opportunity, use the test button on the breaker or the AFCI function on your SureTest.


Ok, then how do you write them up? That all of the Bedroom arc fault protected outlets functioned properly? Would you test each outlet like we test GFCI's?

I guess i will have to get a sure test, I have shied away as I have been worried about increased liability, but then again I worry that I should be using a sure test.


--
"I used to be disgusted, Now I try to Be amused"-Elvis Costello

Originally Posted By: jpope
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bkelly2 wrote:
Ok, then how do you write them up? That all of the Bedroom arc fault protected outlets functioned properly? Would you test each outlet like we test GFCI's?


Trip the breaker via the built-in test button and then check to see that all bedroom receptacles have no power.

The breaker is designed in such a way that there is no need to check it at each receptacle.


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: bkelly2
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Jeff I just did an empty house this am, woulda, coulda, shoulda.


How do you write it up? I am always concerned about writng my findings correctly, at least correctly to me.


--
"I used to be disgusted, Now I try to Be amused"-Elvis Costello

Originally Posted By: jpope
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AFCI breakers responded normally to their internal test buttons


-or-

AFCI breaker(s) did not respond to their internal test button(s).

A bedroom circuit was noted that was not protected by an AFCI breaker. . .

You need to know the year your county/jurisdiction adopted the current standard requiring AFCI protection.


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: apolillo
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Got this from the Square D web site:


The only UL approved method of testing an AFCI circuit breaker is to press the push-to-test button when installed in an energized load center or panel. This test injects a signal into the AFCI sensor that looks like an arc to the AFCI. A properly functioning AFCI will trip when the test button is pushed.

The third-party units are UL listed as AFCI indicators (not testers). AFCI indicators may not recognize all AFCI breakers, and should not be relied on to determine functionality of an AFCI circuit breaker.

Paragraph 31.8.1 of the UL 1436 standard requires the AFCI Indicator markings or instructions to effectively state that the test button on the AFCI circuit breaker demonstrates proper operation.

Anatol


Originally Posted By: bkelly2
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Anatol, so if I test the breaker using the UL approved method I should then state that the breaker functioned properly. Do I say anything about the outlets? Will I know if all of the outlets will trip the breaker?


Jeff I liked the breaker comment using the test button.


--
"I used to be disgusted, Now I try to Be amused"-Elvis Costello

Originally Posted By: Steven Brewster
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Jeff,


Why not test the AFCI breakers when the home is occupied..??


Originally Posted By: rbennett
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Do not use a suretest for AFCI circuit breaker testing


You would be losing $$

rlb


Originally Posted By: jpope
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Steven Brewster wrote:
Jeff,

Why not test the AFCI breakers when the home is occupied..??


You'll have to reset all the clocks, answering machines etc., and you may improperly shut down a computer or other appliance that can be damaged by this type of shutdown.


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: jpope
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.



rbennett wrote:
Do not use a suretest for AFCI circuit breaker testing You would be losing $$


Please explain. . .


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: apolillo
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If the house is occupied, how many alarm clocks do you want to reset…(’icon_razz.gif’)



If you trip it at the breaker and the circuit is de-energized, it works...
Then you can go upstairs and check the outlets. Make sure you reset the tripped breakers.

Anatol


Originally Posted By: rbennett
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Testing breakers when the home is occupied has some problems that will be there even if the home is not occupied.


The breaker does not reset. Thus a very dark bedroom.

BTW this info that you did not test should be put in your report with the reason why

rlb


Originally Posted By: bkelly2
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apolillo wrote:
If the house is occupied, how many alarm clocks do you want to reset...('![icon_razz.gif](upload://rytL63tLPMQHkufGmMVcuHnsuWJ.gif)')


If you trip it at the breaker and the circuit is de-energized, it works...
Then you can go upstairs and check the outlets. Make sure you reset the tripped breakers.

Anatol

Anatol
So tripping the breaker gaurantees that the all triped outlets will respond to an arc fault condition?


--
"I used to be disgusted, Now I try to Be amused"-Elvis Costello

Originally Posted By: apolillo
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Yes…


According to Square D



Anatol


Originally Posted By: bkelly2
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http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/afcifac8.pdf


I have to give this all some thought. The link above reccomends monthly testing.


--
"I used to be disgusted, Now I try to Be amused"-Elvis Costello