Arc-Fault Protection Overview

A little information about ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERPRETERS often abbreviated as (AFCI) (AFI)

Your home is equipped with ACFI protection where required by code. These breakers are more advanced than traditional breakers. They are much more sensitive and sometimes can nuisance trip. If this happens simply reset the breaker. If it continues to trip follow the reset procedure below to eliminate the cause of the trip. You may need to consult a professional if the tripping is persistent.  Remember, breakers trip because something cause them too. Typically the breaker itself is not the issue. 

Why do we have AFI protection?

Traditional breakers don’t pick up ARC faults. Arc faults happen when electricity can’t properly flow thru a wire. Examples of something that can cause ARC would be running a lamp cord thru a door way and shutting the door. The lamp may still work, put there is an arc happening at the pinch point where the door is shut on the wire. It also could happen if you hang a picture and the nail punctures the wire inside the wall, or if you have a damaged cord. Eventually the pinched, punctured, damaged, wire or cord could create an ARC. This arc can create enough heat that could become hazardous and create a fire. The purpose of the ARC-Fault is to shut down the circuit before it becomes hazardous thus stopping the fire from ever happening.

Why do these breakers trip ?

Breakers trip for multiple reasons. The most common is that something has been introduced (plugged in) that the breaker sees as a hazard. A few examples are old appliances with bad cords, a new appliance that has bad internal wiring, a new fan or light fixture that has bad internal wiring. These breakers come out of the factory ready to trip on all “ARC- Faults”, and it picks up the arc-fault based on frequency. All electricity creates “arc” but there is a chip inside the breaker that is programmed to tell it when a frequency (ARC) is ok and when it isn’t. It is not an exact science, there are thousands of frequencies and more added all the time as electronic devices are created. Sometimes the breaker thinks a frequency is a problem when it isn’t. Arc fault breakers are built to US FCC standards, and most appliances/light fixtures/fans are supposed to be built to these same standards. However, since many come from China or other foreign countries they are not necessarily built this way with the same strict tolerances as the US.  Also since the home is all connected, sometimes multiple random frequencies can cause the breaker to see a problem. This could also be from you utility, CB/Ham radio stations, overhead high voltage power lines that have bleed off. These situations are very rare. Finding an issue with an appliance is  by far the most common.