Question about Siemens 20Amp 1-pole arc-fault circuit breaker

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3 combination arc fault breakers tripping under load

I have a 100 amp sub panel in garage,new addition above garage.2 arc faults serving lighting in the addition and 1 arc fault serving plugs in the addition.garage plugs are dedicated.When I plug chop saw or any large load in garage plugs it trips arc fault breakers that are on same phase. When I plug something in to the other phase like bath plug it trips the other arc fault breaker on that phase.These arc fault breakers will not trip unless there is a load.This is a older house and the only outlets affecting these arc faults is on the new sub panel.I can plug a halogen light in the arc fault circ that only has plugs, and it doesn't
trip.When I put a roto zip or vacume it does.I have tried these arc fault brakers in my own 100 amp sub panel and they do not trip with a vacume or roto zip.I have checked all nuetral connections at this house including transformer and meter.Please help.

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What is happening is the white wire that comes off the breaker is probably too close to another neutral or too close to a hot wire that is on one of the other circuits that will make it trip when you use a drill etc... Check to see if the coiled up white wire off of the breaker is not near a hot in the panel. I have had lots of arc fault breakers trip for that reason.

Posted on Nov 28, 2008

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Larry,

I'm an electrician and can help you out with this problem. A tripping arc fault breaker is an indication of a problem with the circuit that will need to be corrected before it can be reset.

The first thing to do is remove all the cord-connected devices from the outlets. This will help in a couple of ways - the first will is that the load on the circuit will be reduced if the tripping is the result of an over-current condition; and will also remove any device that is mimicking the type of arcing trouble the circuit breaker is designed to detect. After all the devices have been removed, reset & turn on the circuit breaker. This means the handle must be pushed to the OFF position fully, and then pressed in the opposite direction to the ON position. If the breaker stays on, begin plugging the cord-connected devices back into the outlets. If the breaker trips, disconnect the last device plugged in, and turn the breaker back on as described above.

You should have the device that caused the trip thoroughly checked before connecting to your home's wiring.

If the breaker tripped before plugging in the cord-connected devices, check fixtures - fluorescent in particular. Older arc fault breakers often confused fluorescent fixtures as dangerous arcs problems. You should disconnect them / remove lamps and try again.

If still unable to get the breaker to stay on, there may be a problem with the breaker or the wiring. You can check the breaker after first removing the load wire from the breaker terminal - but I caution against doing this if you are not completely familiar with working with breakers and live voltages found in an electrical panel.

A qualified electrician should be called to solve the problem for you if you have followed the steps above without any luck.

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