Trip AFCI’s and GFI’s, Monthly Tip of the week

By
Home Inspector with ACSI American Construction Specialists & Investigations

This is your tip of the week from your Phoenix area Home Inspector

Devices with built in test buttons can and will fail. That is why they are designed to be tested.

I am talking about two electrical devices Ground fault Circuit interrupters (GFCI) and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI)GFCI Outlet

When I am performing a home inspection I will test these devices to make sure they are operating properly.

You will recognize the GFIs by the little buttons between the plugs on outlets located in spots where electrical shock hazards exist, such as in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, in the garage etc. They’re designed to prevent electrical shock by “tripping,” or breaking the current when there is a ground fault. So, it’s clearly a good idea to push the test & reset buttons regularly to make sure they’re working. On most newer homes there will be two in the kitchen, one in the bathrooms and one either outside or in the garage. There may be more, for example if you have a spa tub, built in barbecue or have had additional outlets added outside, These outlets should be GFCI protected as well. A GFCI should protect the outlet it self and any outlet down stream from it.

AFCIs or Arc Fault Circuits started being required in 2000.AFCI Breakers

These are special breakers installed in the electrical panel. They have a yellow, blue, green or white test button on them that when pressed should trip the breaker.
People that do a lot of vacuuming are learning to hate these little devices. They are designed to trip when there is an “Arc.” You know what I am talking about; you know when you are running the vacuum and try to go further than the cord allows. When the vacuum motor is drawing power and you disconnect the power source a small arc jumps from the outlet to the plug. This trips the breaker. Most adopted building codes only require these to protect the bedroom circuits, however newer codes require all circuits to be AFCI protected.

These are fairly new devices so the failure rate is still pretty high. During today’s home inspection in Chandler AZ I had two out of three AFCI breakers fail to trip when tested.

These little devices are there for your safety. If you test one and it fails, call a competent licensed electrician to perform repairs as needed.

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Rainmaker
976,133
Tim Lorenz
TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team - Mission Viejo, CA
949 874-2247

The safety of the GFI is fantastic.  It is one of the best inventions in the home in years.

Aug 10, 2011 07:08 PM #1
Rainer
206,384
Marge Piwowarski
Phoenix AZ Horse Property - Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC

I learned my thing for the day, Scott.  I never heard of an AFCI breaker.  I have and actually occasionally check GFIs.  I don't have AFCIs in my box but I am an indifferent housekeeper and would rarely be inconvenienced while vacuuming...

Aug 10, 2011 07:10 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,620,885
Ronald DiLalla
Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824 - Anaheim, CA
No. Orange Cty Real Estate

Hi Scott,  really a God Send in the kitchens and bathrooms.  thanks for sharing.

Aug 10, 2011 07:12 PM #3
Rainmaker
93,821
Scott Warga
ACSI American Construction Specialists & Investigations - Gilbert, AZ

Tim, I agree, the GFCI outlet is a great thing, to bad most people ton't test them, or worse, remove them.

Marge, Glad I could help make you wiser than you already are.

Ronald, Thanks for stopping by.

Aug 10, 2011 08:00 PM #4
Rainer
63,278
Loren Green
Greens Home Design L.L.C. - Buckeye, AZ
Phoenix Home Inspector & Designer

Scott - just switching on and off a surge suppressor for the computer power supply can trip an AFCI.  At what point are we too safe?

Aug 11, 2011 02:50 AM #5
Rainer
142,616
Karen Burket
Bank of Oregon a division of Willamette Valley Bank - Medford, OR
Valley Mortgage Grou, Conventional, FHA, VA, mortgages

I don't understand...what is a "Monthly" tip of the "week"?   ;-)  Ya know I just gotta razz ya, Scott!  In all seriousness, good information!  :)

Aug 11, 2011 01:51 PM #6
Rainmaker
93,821
Scott Warga
ACSI American Construction Specialists & Investigations - Gilbert, AZ

Karen, ask your husband what a "Monthly tip of the week"

About once a month we men get a tip to tread softly around our wives.

Aug 11, 2011 07:21 PM #7
Rainer
142,616
Karen Burket
Bank of Oregon a division of Willamette Valley Bank - Medford, OR
Valley Mortgage Grou, Conventional, FHA, VA, mortgages

LOL!   

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Nov 16, 2017 07:23 PM #12
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