Author Topic: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical  (Read 671 times)

Case

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Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« on: May 05, 2019, 12:47:25 PM »
We moved into a new house a few months ago and have been having issues with the breakers frequently tripping.  It happens most frequently on a basement circuit, but occasionally on a basement/office circuit, and just today started to happen on our 50A oven circuit. 

I am calling in an electrician as i dont want to mess around with potential fire causers.  Though it is probably helpful for me to be educated here and ask probing questions and such.  What are potential causess and how can we test for them?

At one point i was nervous about mice in the attic (e.g. wire chewing) but i have sealed off the likely invasion point and had no more signs of mice.  The electrical was brand new when we moved in.  I could get the info on the circuit breakers if needed.  They are mostly Siemens AFCI/GFCI combo breakers i think

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2019, 01:10:35 PM »
You mention that they are AFCI breakers. Do you run any equipment with bushed motors on these circuits? As I understand it those brushes can arc from time to time and trip an AFCI.

A quick google says that universal motors with some brush wear can cause arcing with can trip the breakers, older vacuums are frequently mentioned. The oven is curious, unless a motor in it has gotten some brush wear and is sparking slightly. But, as far as the basement circuits go I would pay attention to what you are doing/using or what is running/just turned on when the breaker trips and I bet you will find a culprit.


Case

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2019, 01:14:49 PM »
You mention that they are AFCI breakers. Do you run any equipment with bushed motors on these circuits? As I understand it those brushes can arc from time to time and trip an AFCI.

A quick google says that universal motors with some brush wear can cause arcing with can trip the breakers, older vacuums are frequently mentioned. The oven is curious, unless a motor in it has gotten some brush wear and is sparking slightly. But, as far as the basement circuits go I would pay attention to what you are doing/using or what is running/just turned on when the breaker trips and I bet you will find a culprit.

There is a dehumidifier on the basement that usually is what trips the circuit, but it is not due to amperage beyond the theoretical limit of the circuit.  However, the dehumidifier is brand new.

We do have all LED lights in the house, and i have read that they are tricky sometimes.  Of course, the oven is a puzzler.

Lulee

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2019, 02:54:13 PM »
I Googled to see if I could learn anything about this while I waited for you to get an answer to your issue.

Seems there are some electronic devices that can cause AFCI devices to trip per this article https://structuretech1.com/nuisance-tripping-afci-breakers/ (part way down they give a link for the National Elecctrical Manufacturers Association PDF about this --- https://structuretech1.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/AFCI-Tripping-NEMA-Compatibility.pdf --- which is from 2011 but covers a lot of stuff).  There's some info about how to narrow it down to a device.

These guys --- https://www.electriciantalk.com/f2/siemens-afci-gfci-breaker-woes-205809/ --- were talking about your specific devlices.  The OP got an AFCI tester and was able to get to his culprit, a 24-vot electronic driver for LED tape lighting.  Both this article and another (https://www.familyhandyman.com/electrical/breaker-box/fix-a-sensitive-arc-fault-circuit-breaker/) talked about LEDs causing issues for reasons that I'm not I fully grasp but sounds like it's within the range of possibilities for your problem.  Telsa, about 2/3 of the way down, gives an explanation.

Case

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2019, 03:24:15 PM »
I Googled to see if I could learn anything about this while I waited for you to get an answer to your issue.

Seems there are some electronic devices that can cause AFCI devices to trip per this article https://structuretech1.com/nuisance-tripping-afci-breakers/ (part way down they give a link for the National Elecctrical Manufacturers Association PDF about this --- https://structuretech1.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/AFCI-Tripping-NEMA-Compatibility.pdf --- which is from 2011 but covers a lot of stuff).  There's some info about how to narrow it down to a device.

These guys --- https://www.electriciantalk.com/f2/siemens-afci-gfci-breaker-woes-205809/ --- were talking about your specific devlices.  The OP got an AFCI tester and was able to get to his culprit, a 24-vot electronic driver for LED tape lighting.  Both this article and another (https://www.familyhandyman.com/electrical/breaker-box/fix-a-sensitive-arc-fault-circuit-breaker/) talked about LEDs causing issues for reasons that I'm not I fully grasp but sounds like it's within the range of possibilities for your problem.  Telsa, about 2/3 of the way down, gives an explanation.

Thanks for these links, i will check them out

affordablehousing

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2019, 10:54:52 AM »
classic case of AFCI's being too smart for their own good. They are super sensitive and in my opinion just useful for the manufacturers to extract more profit from a more complicated breaker. It may not be code but swap them out for normal circuit breakers. In our area you can pay your electrician to write a letter explaining you need them. Lots of types of appliances and tools trip them. The Murray AFCI's are better.

lthenderson

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2019, 01:44:16 PM »
Due to a problem on the other side of the wall, an electrician had to replace one of my grandfathered in regular outlets in my garage with an AFCI one per code. It then began tripping with about half of all my power tools. I have since put back in the grandfathered regular outlet and haven't had any problems since. That was about five years ago. I have hoped that the AFCI outlets have gotten better. Perhaps not.

affordablehousing

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2019, 03:02:15 PM »
We just replaced our panel (we had four breakers of a dissimilar manufacturer type that had gotten loose, letting the bus bar arc daily pitting it out). The electrician who replaced and upgraded our service said AFCI's were a scourge. You can do it yourself, or get a letter if you want to have backup should you do subsequent work and need to explain to an inspector why you don't have AFCI's in there.

I can't figure out the reasoning. They trip on my table saw, not my miter saw, drill press or bandsaw.

Papa bear

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2019, 03:11:12 PM »
I know a guy who writes some building code and trains building code at conferences worldwide. He hates AFCI breakers.  Said they were lobbied into the code by manufacturers without much proof of doing anything. Basically they are a solution to a problem that didnít exist. 

I say swap out your breakers for regular.


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Car Jack

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2019, 01:30:45 PM »
I just replaced a stupid $50 20A GFCI breaker because the old one (put in in 1984) was false tripping for no reason (as in....I removed every circuit and it would still trip).  When I wired my garage, although GFCI is required, it can be at the outlet, rather than the breaker.  I've found that the outlets are way, way cheaper to do (only one outlet per circuit needs to be done), than doing a breaker.  Then use regular breakers.

I have not had issues with LED bulbs, but have now and then had issues with some compact fluorescents.  I know how they're made and they are.....like all consumer electronics are.......built with rejected garbage and general junk.  They create common mode current, which sends current on the ground wire, tripping the breaker.  Poor design and poor components that break down quickly.  But nobody's going to spend $25 on a light bulb, so it is what it is.

JLee

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2019, 01:34:20 PM »
My miter saw will trip AFCI breakers (edit: outlets, not breakers - have not tested with AFCI breakers). It's annoying and I really don't like them. It's not even a budget-rate saw...just how the motor works, I guess.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 04:25:26 PM by JLee »

Case

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Re: Breakers tripping in house with new electrical
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2019, 03:13:02 PM »
We moved into a new house a few months ago and have been having issues with the breakers frequently tripping.  It happens most frequently on a basement circuit, but occasionally on a basement/office circuit, and just today started to happen on our 50A oven circuit. 

I am calling in an electrician as i dont want to mess around with potential fire causers.  Though it is probably helpful for me to be educated here and ask probing questions and such.  What are potential causess and how can we test for them?

At one point i was nervous about mice in the attic (e.g. wire chewing) but i have sealed off the likely invasion point and had no more signs of mice.  The electrical was brand new when we moved in.  I could get the info on the circuit breakers if needed.  They are mostly Siemens AFCI/GFCI combo breakers i think

I had the electrician over.  He wasnt sure of the exact cause, but noticed that the breakers were a different brand than the breaker box and though thatthat was odd.  Additionally, the test button on the breakers does not trip them.

He replaced the siemens afci gfci breakers with Eaton ones, and so far they seem to be functioning without issue.  Iíll give this a few weeks to fully evaluate...