Sure Test fails to trip AFCI breakers

New construction. None of the tested Square-D breakers would trip with a Sure-test. Got a strange read-out. What do you think?

You didn’t wait long enough between tests. After a series of tests, it needs to cool down. Manual calls for 20 seconds between tests to dissipate heat.

Thanks Stephen.

None of the AFCI’s tripped however. I’ve heard that the test button is the accepted test method, but when I can’t get them to trip using the Sure-test, I write it up.

Did they trip with the test button?? .
That is the recommended way to test

Exactly Roy. :smiley:

Have you got a updated one/ we had problems with a couple of manufactures Siemens was one . Ideal had to update the unit

Does the test button trip the breaker? If so how can you write it up? Isn’t the TEST button the prescribed testing method set forth by the manufacturer?

What do you say when your tester won’t trip a GFCI? I view AFCI’s no differently. If I have an expensive device that is designed to trip the breaker and it does not, I write it up like so:

“An arc-fault circuit interrupters protecting the bedrooms and living areas do not trip when tested using a Sure-Test circuit analyzer, and should be evaluated by a licensed electrician. AFCI receptacles are life saving devices but may fail or be defective from the manufacturer. Any claim that the only reliable test is by using the breaker’s integrated test button should be substantiated with written documentation from the manufacturer.”

The only UL recognized test method is the built-in test buttons. You are not using a tester, it is more properly called an indicator.

To write up something when the proper procedure works would be a poor call IMO.

Ideal’s test recommendation:

From the link…They recommed using the integral test button.

Can the underlined/bolded always be verified by the home inspector?

  1. At the panel, operate the test button on the AFCI breaker installed in the branch circuit.
    a. If the AFCI breaker trips, reset the breaker to restore power.
    b. If the AFCI breaker does not trip, verify proper installation of the breaker. If the installation is correct and the breaker still does not trip, replace the faulty breaker.
  2. Then, check each outlet on the branch circuit for proper wiring configuration by using the LEDs on the 61-059 tester.
  3. Go to the furthest outlet on the branch circuit from the panel and conduct an AFCI trip test with the tester.
    a. If the breaker trips, then use the tester to check that each outlet on the branch circuit has been de-energized to confirm that the outlets are on the same AFCI branch circuit.
    b. If the breaker doesn’t trip, then the branch circuit may have excessive line impedance (i.e. voltage drop) from undersized wiring, loose wire connections and/or faulty wiring devices. The SureTest® model 61-165 can be used to further identify the source of high impedance on the branch circuit.

There are certain types of AFCI breakers that do not trip when the SureTest is used, although the AFCI function is operational.

As long as the circuit is opened when the internal test button on the breaker is used, the AFCI is considered functional.

The readings on your SureTest show “caution” (triangle with exclamation), “don’t operate” (circle with line), “over heated” (thermometer) and “wait” (hour glass) - in other words STOP! :wink:

I thought the appropriate way was to test at the breaker itself??


Same if your Tester does not trip a GFCI and the Test Button does trip the Circuit, it is not a defect. :smiley:

I carry 3 GFCI testers in my tool kit from the small $10 type to the original Suretest I bought in 1985. If none of my testers will trip a GFCI and the test button does, I call it as a defect!! Just being safe… when 3 testers that are designed to “create a ground fault condition” do not cause a trip, I’m assuming the GFCI unit will not trip when a real one occurs!

The definition on an “arc” when talking about AFCI’s is based on what the engineers agreed on during production of the devices. The AC waveform “noise” that causes the device to trip is a result of lots of testing and has to be limited in order to prevent nuisance trips. Expecting a tester made by a different company to always work is unrealistic until they come up with an industry standard of unsafe waveforms. This probably will not happen since AC waveforms under arcing conditions and normal on/off effects of household devices used on the circuit is extremely complicated at best.

GFCI’s are much simpler since a certain current differential is simple to spec and measure. Writing up a GFCI for not tripping with a known good tester is a reasonable action since line impedance differences can cause one to not trip or be slow to trip at some remote outlet with the GFCI device upstream somewhere.

In other words, the GFCI device can safely be tested with its own test button but an actual ground fault downstream needs to be “seen” by the GFCI and these testers we use are a good way to test those remote outlets.
A writeup should explain the exact locations of everything and not just a basic “it did not trip”.

The 3 light testers will not trip a GFI on an ungrounded circuit. This would be a shortcoming of the test method, not a defect in the GFI or the wiring.

As was said elsewhere, the UL recognized method is the test button on either the GFI or AFCI.

Bruce, you touched on the same thing a UL engineer said. There is no standard algorithm for the arc fault logic. Each maker has written their own criteria so the test method may not coincide with the
AFCI logic used by the breaker. They emphasized that the test button was the only recognized test method. Anything else, like the Suretest, was an indicator.

I was talking about grounded receptacles. On ungrounded circuits, I have to rely on the integral test button.

Purchase or construct a ground-continuity adapter.