GFCI Testers

I did an inspection yesterday on a home with Arc Fault Circuit breakers installed on the bedroom circuits. I don’t do many newer homes working mostly in Boston, so I don’t usually run into them but my GFCI tester tripped the Arc Fault Circuit breaker. I don’t remember having this happen in the past. Is a GFCI circuit tester supposed to trip the Arc Fault Circuit Breaker. Thanks

Arc Fault breakers also have a GFI component. They trip under a ground fault of 30 milliamperes and over. The regular GFCI’s that protect people (like around sinks and such) trip at 5 milliamperes.

A couple things might have happened in your case:

  • Your GFCI tester is simulating a short of much greater than 5 milliamperes, and needs replaced*]The AFCI breaker is too sensitive*]A ground fault of a magnitude less than 30 milliamperes presently exists on the circuit, and the extra 6 or 8 milliamperes you added with your tester brought it over the 30 milliamp threshold that it took to trip the AFCI.

In my experience, the last option in my list is the likely culprit. I really don’t know how to advise you on how or what to write about this in your report. One of your other home inspector colleagues probably has a good idea.

It was probably a combination AFCI / GFCI breaker.


If the AFCI responded properly to it’s test button and no other “defect” was noted I would note what occurred while “other GFCI testing” was being performed and have evaluated by electrician.
Once occupied by your client and the circuit is loaded, nuisance tripping may occur that was not disclosed and guess who they’ll want to pay for the “defect”

This is what I’m using when AFCI is not present, maybe some part may help you or your client

**Safety enhancement upgrade: Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is now required, depending on local adoption of these new standards. All 120-volt, single phase, 15-20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in a dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sun rooms, hallways, recreation rooms, closets, similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc fault interrupter combination-type, installed to provide protection of the branch circuit. **
**CPSC AFCI info]( **
2008 AFCI info and locations](

That’s one I hadn’t considered, but while they certainly exist, it would be pretty rare to run into one in the field. Certainly possible, but rare. Of course, we’re dealing with sort of a rare situation here (GFCI tester tripping an AFCI), so who knows? Not really something a home inspector rightfully needs to sort out. I wouldn’t want to automatically assume that he was dealing with the combination AFCI/GFCI breaker and dismiss the issue, only to have it be a genuine problem.

I think C/H has the AFCI/GFCI

If you were using a SureTest, you would know exactly how may mA were applied to the circuit, and for what duration.

The standard three-light testers are pretty useless for any type of circuit analysis.

AFCI question…

I have been recommending AFCI upgrades for bedroom circuits, do you guys recommend them now per the 2005 NEC for all ROOMS. (other than GFCI locations)

I am sure Realtors love this recommendation… since AFCI’s are fairly a new requirement. I get questions just for the bedroom recommendations…

Do you recommend all Circuits??? I am sure I will start…
Let me know.

That’s actually a brand-new 2008 requirement. Speaking as an electrician, yes!, please recommend that they be added to all 120 volt circuits.

They do, but as Marc said, they are extremely rare.

Too many folks are under the misconception that the new “combination” AFCIs are combination AFCI/GFCI, when in fact they are NOT. They are simply combination AFCI breakers.

You can open up a can of worms doing that. If the bedroom is wired on mwbc the afc breaker will not work and the homeowner will think he has an electric wiring problem when he does not.


If the circuit is a MWBC, the ONLY way it would work with an AFCI is if it is a two-pole breaker.
A MWBC would not work at all if two SP AFCIs were used.

That would be GE with the white rocker switches. One side GFC one side AFC

I highly suggest you cease giving out electrical advise of any sort.

Marc, If you will please read my post again, I think you will see I did not give any electric advice. I very simply stated that what he saw MAY have been the GE AFCI breaker that has the white rocker test switch on it. If you look close, you will see that on one side of the switch it says AFCI on the other side it says GFCI. I gave no advice to use the device or made any statement of it effectiveness.

I was talking about this one



**This category covers portable devices with fixed attachment plug ****blades, or probes attached to flexible leads, used to indicate various wiring ****conditions in 15 or 20 A branch circuits by a pattern of lights or other ****similar means along with markings or instructions to identify the probable **wiring conditions which cannot be determined by the tester.

**The devices may include provisions for checking the functions of a ****ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) connected to the branch circuit, or ****for indicating that a branch circuit is connected to an arc-fault circuit **interrupter (AFCI).

**AFCI indicators operate by producing a waveform similar to an arc ****fault. Since these devices cannot produce an actual arc fault, an AFCI ****indicator may not trip every AFCI. AFCI indicators are provided with ****markings or instructions that state the following or equivalent: ‘‘****CAUTION: ****AFCIs recognize characteristics unique to arcing, and AFCI indicators ****produce characteristics that mimic some forms of arcing. Therefore ****the indicator may provide a false indication that the AFCI is not functioning **properly. If this occurs, recheck the operation of the AFCI using the
**test and reset buttons. The AFCI button test function will demonstrate **proper operation.’’

**These devices are not intended for use as comprehensive diagnostic **instruments.


**Ground-continuity-indicating devices constructed integral with cordconnector ****bodies for use on construction sites are covered under Attachment **Plugs, Fuseless (AXUT) as ‘‘cord-connector bodies.’’


**For additional information, see Electrical Equipment for Use in Ordinary **Locations (AALZ).


**The basic standard used to investigate products in this category is UL **1436, ‘‘Outlet Circuit Testers.’’


[FONT=Arial][size=4]**The Listing Mark of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. on the product, or ****the UL symbol on the product and the Listing Mark on the smallest unit **container in which the product is packaged, is the only method provided by UL to identify products manufactured under its Listing and Follow-Up
**Service. The Listing Mark for these products includes the UL symbol (as
illustrated in the Introduction of this Directory) together with the word **‘‘LISTED,’’ a control number, and the product name ‘‘Circuit Tester.’’


Just t

red is mine