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Steven Hockstein

Arc Fault breakers testing?

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I have noted that arc fault breakers are installed in new panels but I do not test them because I am concerned that I could cause damage if I disconnect something that should not lose power. How are others handling this? 

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If the home is occupied I note the presence of the AFCI breakers but write that I did not actually trip them as the home is occupied. If the home is vacant than I trip them all, then go out into the home and verify what is actually off, then reset the breakers. 

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It became code in Illinois in 2002 to have AFCI breakers installed for all sleeping room receptacles. I don't know why just bedrooms. If there is a test button – which there is – I press it to see if it trips and will reset. Sometimes, they will not reset but that means there is something wrong and it needs to be fixed. If people are in the house I make sure no one has any computers running or stuff like that which will mess with them. They can reset their own clocks. I don't worry about it.  I do the same thing if there are GFCI protected circuit breakers.

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I only test AFCIs when the property is vacant or staged.

Decided many years ago to skip testing the AFCIs when I was inspecting the home of a 'day trader' who had many computers, servers and monitors in his expansive office. I figured it would be in my best interest to not interrupt the power to those machines. Liability a bit too much for me in that situation.

I do a very close look, however, for the 'blue button' Square D AFCIs that were recalled in November 2004.  Still see some of them about from time to time.

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