Houses with AFCI Breakers.... Basic testers shut off AFCI breakers?!?

Hi Guys,
I have inspected a few homes where my GB Surewire tester, just placing the tester in the bedroom outlets has shut off the AFCI breakers at the panel… I am assuming that the AFCI breaker is doing its job!!!

I wasn’t sure if this was a normal condition, since I am (only) placing the tester in the bedroom outlet, and (not) pressing my “GFCI” test button…

Is this normal???

Hmmm…AFCI’s and testers are in their infancy still…but my AFCI tester does not do this so I would tend to say in my opinion it is not normal that it would trip it without even pushing the test button for it.

It could be a bad tester and the AFCI is detecting it…wish I could tell you more but I would only be speculating at this time.

I will try to do a little looking around for more information or others may have some “Proven” facts…not assumptions I hope.

" Infancy" - compared to other technologies, but Square D has been working on them since back in the 80’s…but only recently accepted by the NEC…and it is changing all the time.

I have been told that the only correct way to test AFCI breakers is to turn them off at the breaker (with the test button) and then go to the room and make sure that all the outlets and switches have no power.

I do this as well…

I used to use the AFCI button on my 61-058 but it didn’t always work…

Whats “arc” vs “ground” and why a bedroom vs the living,family,dining,kitchen rooms?

Remember to please answer in HI language vs elect.


This is correct, the proper approved method for testing GFCI’s and AFCI’s are at the receptacle or breaker depending . Now, many will use the testing devices as a backup or secondary testing method and that is fine…but as stated you should first test in the manufactures intent and that is at the breaker or receptacle…again depending on which you are speaking of.

This is also a way to ensure in new construction that the EC complied to the issue of no outside plugs are also connected to the bathroom GFCI circuit…and so on…when you trip the GFCI’s lets say…on the outside of the house…check the bathrooms also to ensure they are still working…you will be amazed that many EC’s still dont know about that change.


I have to run to a job but I will be brief…

An ARC is a static connection between two points that over time will heat up due to a poor connection…I am sure you have seen an ARC happen in a science project or on TV…

It is basically electricity jumping from one point to another…the contacts are so close but not touching…the electricity JUMPS accoss to the opposite side…thats basically an arc…without more detail.

A ground is the connection and intential or accidential connection to earth…or some body that is assuming the place of earth…

Why the bedroom…well considering you spend the most time in the bedroom unaware of your surroundings ( sleeping ) this is probably the main reason…studies have shown that most fires start in the bedroom…basically you are in their the most…and unaware the most unlike other areas.

However, it is being debated right now to add to the NEC that all 120V 15 & 20 branch circuits be on AFCI*…also I believe the bedroom was the start…but it will probably not be the ending point of this AFCI debate.

Sorry…originally mistyped GFCI…my BAD

However, it is being debated right now to add to the NEC that all 120V 15 & 20 branch circuits be on GFCI…also I believe the bedroom was the start…but it will probably not be the ending point of this AFCI debate.

I believe Paul meant AFCI, not GFCI

opps…yep I did mean AFCI…thanks…:slight_smile:

It is already in the draft of the 2008 code to make all 15 and 20a outlets AFCI. The only debate is whether they should change it or modify it. We may see some exceptions but I bet it will happen.

Here’s some info on AFCI’s.

I was in a two year old SFR a couple of weeks ago. The sub was in the laundry room, and when I pushed the test button for the master bedroom afci, the ceiling light in the laundry went out…


The question is whether all the power went out in the bedroom. Nothing says the bedroom circuits are dedicated.

thanks Linus!!!

Good info Paul!

AS greg stated…it technically is fine for a light outside the bedroom to be on AFCI as well…nothing in the code says the AFCI circuit has to stay in the bedroom…it can do other area of the house as well as the bedroom…

Bedrooms do not have to be dedicated…

New question regarding AFCIs for the professional sparkies on board and it ties into one issue mentioned earlier.

I did an inspection today on a 4 year old house that had 3 AFCIs stacked on top of each other. The temperature was a little high but not scorching (105 deg.) I did a little digging on the internet (Mike Holt’s website) and found not a lot to say about overheating but enough to lead me to believe it is not that uncommon for AFCIs to be a little hot (they are all after all thermal devices) but it brings me to the question that if the aim is to eventually put all circuits on AFCI would this not create a real problem with a panel full of overheating AFCIs? BTW…on article I read specifically mentioned Cutler-Hammer AFCIs as prone to overheating. That is what the home I did today had in it. Has anyone else run across this?

I was under the impression that AFCI breakers only sensed parallel arcs and not series arcing. Paul, do you have any information about that?

Charles that is true. It only detects a shorting fault, not an open fault.


ARC faults will run hot. Many of the manufactures recommend that no more than two be stacked together. It is only a recommendation and not an installation instruction.

As for the entire box being ARC fault protected, new breakers are supposed to be on the market to prevent the overheating. I guess we will see. I’m sure Paul will post more information on this.