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GFCI's with AFCI's?


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House is a 1977 flip that has a new panel (200-amp). In the panel the legend for the GFCI's point to AFCI circuit breakers. The GFCI outlets have the test buttons/reset on the outlets in both bathrooms. I tripped them and they would not reset. I go to the panel, and the AFCI breaker is tripped. So, I reset the AFCI breaker, go back to the outlet and it still wont reset. I go to another bathroom and find that that GFCI has power. Long story short, I went all over the house and exterior checking to see if any other outlets were tied to the bathroom that I originally tripped and never did get a clear indication of how this circuit was configured. Somehow, not sure how, after several attempts, the GFCI that I originally tripped came back on and I left it alone. My questions is: Can GFCI outlets be connected to AFCI breakers? Also, the AFCI breakers in the panel would not reset unless you pressed the test button(that was already tripped) again to make it release. In other words the test button on the AFCI breaker in the panel would stay "pressed-in" until I manually made it release, then reset the breaker... Any help would be appreciated. Thanks again in advance for your expertise!

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AFCI breakers

This document by GE says AFCI breakers offer ground protection. I don't know if the specs of that ground protection are on par with that offered by GFCI's but I would suggest that you've good protection on both modes with an AFCI breaker alone and that the two types in series creates a redundancy that can only afford you trouble.

Marc

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Don't you hate that? Why can't they leave a note describing where they tapped in to what circuit why?

I would advise that an electrician go over the bathroom circuits. The GFCI may be faulty, but most likely, a connection or two is out of whack.

Daisy-chained GFCI's can drive you batty. Then explain it all to your client and watch for the blank looks. [:)]

I believe GFCI's are still needed even if the circuit has AFCI protection.

This is cut+paste explains why. I think.

1) As you undoubtedly know, the GFCI detects any difference between the current going out the hot wire and that returning via the neutral. If that difference is greater than .006A or so, for .025 seconds, the breaker trips.

2) The AFCI somehow (via FM?), most of the time, maybe, detects an arcing situation in the circuit downstream, whether or not (sometimes) an arc actually exists.

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House is a 1977 flip that has a new panel (200-amp). In the panel the legend for the GFCI's point to AFCI circuit breakers. The GFCI outlets have the test buttons/reset on the outlets in both bathrooms. I tripped them and they would not reset. I go to the panel, and the AFCI breaker is tripped. So, I reset the AFCI breaker, go back to the outlet and it still wont reset. I go to another bathroom and find that that GFCI has power. Long story short, I went all over the house and exterior checking to see if any other outlets were tied to the bathroom that I originally tripped and never did get a clear indication of how this circuit was configured. Somehow, not sure how, after several attempts, the GFCI that I originally tripped came back on and I left it alone. My questions is: Can GFCI outlets be connected to AFCI breakers?

Yes, they can and they should work just fine. However, if you use a portable tester to test them, then you risk tripping the built-in GFCI protection in the AFCI breaker. In that case, you have to go reset everything in the proper order to restore power. This should not happen if you use the GFCI's built-in test button, as it creates a fault that's below the threshold of the AFCI's GFCI function. (The GFCI function in an AFCI is not for protection of people and it has a much higher threshold than the type of GFCIs that you're used to.)

Also, the AFCI breakers in the panel would not reset unless you pressed the test button(that was already tripped) again to make it release. In other words the test button on the AFCI breaker in the panel would stay "pressed-in" until I manually made it release, then reset the breaker... Any help would be appreciated. Thanks again in advance for your expertise!

What brand AFCIs were these?

Were they the branch/feeder type or the combination type?

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How old are the AFCI breakers? Are they the newer required combination type AFCI breakers?

When AFCI breakers first came out they did not play well with GFCI's. The newer ones have no problems.

I make electricians put GFCI outlets on AFCI breakers all the time.

Matter of Fact in the upcoming 2014 NEC the kitchen will require afci protection. That means the counter top outlets must be gfci and AFCI protected

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