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Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Bill Jeffrey, Feb 22, 2007.

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  1. Bill Jeffrey

    Bill Jeffrey Guest

    Anyone know anything useful about these?

    A month ago, my brother moved into a 14-month-old house in central
    Florida. All is well, meaning everything has worked as expected during
    that month.

    A few days ago, he had some guys in to begin installing a pool. One of
    them plugged a big drill into an outdoor outlet, and spun the drill. All
    was well until the load was applied to the drill (drilling into
    concrete). The breaker for that circuit popped. This was not an AFCI
    circuit.

    After the guys finished up, my brother noted that power to the bedroom
    outlets was out. He used a squeaker (non-contact voltage sensor) to nose
    around, and discovered that ALL FIVE AFCIs in the breaker panel appear
    to be defective. Defective meaning that no power comes out of the AFCI,
    no matter how he fiddles with test button, reset button, and breaker
    on-off handle.

    Since everything worked before, we assume that the installation was done
    correctly, and the problem is due to something that happened recently -
    perhaps the drill incident, perhaps not. I cannot imagine any fault that
    would trip all 5 AFCIs without tripping anything else. I cannot imagine
    how the drill incident, on a separate circuit, could trip/destroy all
    five AFCIs.

    The big tornado a couple weeks ago was 20 miles north of them. Could a
    lightning strike associated with that have caused the problem? Are these
    things more sensitive to lightning surges than GFCIs, of which there are
    several in the house?

    Thanks for any thoughts

    Bill Jeffrey
     
  2. Get someone to check it all out with a multimeter. I'd be looking at the
    grounding etc for these, hard to see why they would all die like that.


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  3. Did he verify that there is power going to the AFCIs?
     
  4. Don't know but 20 miles isn't far for lightning.
    Check with MFG. I know SqareD had a recall on some units. Probably older
    than the house but who knows how old the units were when installed. Don't
    recall what problem they had.
     
  5. Bill Jeffrey

    Bill Jeffrey Guest

    BINGO! Apparently these things are quite fussy about the
    neutral-to-ground connection in the panel. The problem turned out to be
    a slightly loose screw on the neutral bar. When my brother torqued it
    down with a big screwdriver, everything came back to life.

    Incidentally, the suggestion to do this came from the Licensed
    Electrician at Home Depot. Who knew that Home Depot has ANYONE competent
    on staff, let alone a licensed electrician?

    Thanks

    Bill
     
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