Updated: Jan 19
Well, you go down to your electrical panel and you realize that an AFCI breaker is the culprit for losing power. You try resetting it and it trips again! Here we are going break it all down and talk about What an Arc Fault Circuit Breaker really is and all the reasons you may have lost power.
What is an Arc Fault Breaker?
An arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) is a type of circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects an electric arc in the circuit. Its primary job is to prevent electrical fires in the home and increase electrical safety. Originally, at least here in Canada, they were commonly installed originally only in bedrooms. As time has gone on, this practice has expanded to most parts of the home and are commonly found in new electrical installations. The technology is far from being perfected as it will nuisance trip a large laundry list of different items. It is however as each year goes by becoming less and less of a problem
Common Reasons that AFCI Breaker will trip
Incompatible Items - AFCI devices prevent fires by detecting electrical arcs, and sometimes in attempting to differentiate normal electrical arcs from those that could cause a fire, it trips accidentally. Some of the common items that still cause problems are microwave hood fans, treadmills, stereo equipment, and TVs. As mentioned above, it relatively a new technology that still has a couple of bugs.
If you happen to have bought a new electrical item for your house, this is why the electrical circuit is tripping. Some electronic devices simply give AFCI devices problems. You may have to update your AFCI breaker with a new one. Consult with your local electrician to see if they can help you with this. Newer generations of AFCI breakers are less prone to problems, but are certainly not immune.
Breaker has Tripped Multiple times -If this is an existing installation and the breaker has been overloaded or a device that is incompatible is plugged in, there may now be a problem with the breaker. Like anything else in this world, if you are pushed to the maximum of what you are designed for, something will eventually give.
Wiring Problems - If this a new installation it is more than likely to be a wiring issue. The neutrals in this type of circuit need to be separate from all others as this can cause problems with the breaker tripping. If something is crossed with another circuit, this will more than likely be the culprit. This type of troubleshooting will most likely have to looked at by the electrician that wired it or someone qualified with good understanding of circuitry. With AFCI circuit breakers, this improper wiring will cause the breaker to trip.