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AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) devices such as yours rarely have a problem - but a trip indicates there's a problem with the circuit it is supplying. It like a fuse - they generally don't go bad by themselves - but do when there's a problem.
AFCI have the unique ability to detect arcing - or sparking. An arc or spark is very hot - and is a fire hazard. An AFCI can sense this condition before it is even seen - if it were in an exposed place that it could be seen and shuts off power. Arcing can occur at a loose connection, such as in a wirenut, terminal screw, etc. The AFCI can also detect when a cable support staple has been driven to deep and crushed through the cable insulation and is beginning to cause a high resistance short circuit. Because these problems often occur where they can't be seen, it is a labor intensive job to locate and repair the problem. Sometimes, entire sections of circuits must be re-fed due to the location of the fault. Due to the complexity of searching for the fault, you may want to call an electrician to clear the fault for you. You should not under any circumstances replace the AFCI with a standard circuit breaker or GFCI type circuit breaker. You may however, change it with an adjacent AFCI breaker to determine if the issue is with the circuit - or the AFCI. If the AFCI trips on the new circuit, you should accept that it has failed and should be replaced. If the problem stays in the same circuit, then the AFCI is good and the problem is in the circuit somewhere.
Here are a couple links to youtube videos that may help you understand the how and why of AFCI devices: video 1 and video 2. A link back to Siemen's site on AFCI is here.
I hope this helps and good luck. Please rate my reply - thanks!
First let me state that I am not a licienced electrician,however I have done all sorts of construction work now for almost forty years.I have never heard of this being normal for properly sized and installed afci breakers. I would contact siemens directly and see what they have to say. As I said this does not sound right to me.I think I would check with other electricians and see what they say. Thank you.
Hi, these ground fault Interupter or AFCI breakers are made for normally outdoor circuit and and circuits around water such as your bathrooms. I would turn each one off, take a screw driver and make sure each terminal to each breaker is good and tight. You say this is a new home, so it makes since this is a problem. This can be done safely, as with the breakers off the screw terminals are dead, always be safe though when working around high voltage. If you continue to have this problem, you would have no other choice than to get a qualified Elect. out to see if they have your G.F.I breakers wired on the right circuits? This sounds to me this also may be your problem. They are made to trip around sinks with lets say your lady of the home using a blow dryer on her hair and there is a slight voltage leak in the cord of the appliance? This is when the breaker should trip due to the chance of shock!!
You should only use a breaker that is listed for use with your panel. Use of a breaker that is not either listed or classified for use in the panel is a code violation. Check the breaker to see if it will fit your panel (probably not) Murry is now Siemens I believe, and Cuttler Hammer is Eaton. There was a Murry-Cuttler Hammer-Challenger connection for awhile, but just because it fits doesn't mean it's ok.
connect the neutral from the circuit to the afci breaker, and run the neutral that came on the afci breaker to the neutral bar in the panel. Make sure that the neutral that you connect from the circuit to the afci breaker is the one that belongs to the circuit that you're protecting or the afci wont work.
You could install a standard GFCI in line at each component ( heater, pump & timer) or you could install AFCI breakers similar to what are required in many residential codes (provide the same protection at the panel not at the location... http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/afcifac8.PDF
The AFCI breakers will need to match your panel type (siemens, GE or Square-D) and the amperage/configuration.
I would install them at the lowest level (closest to the components) in the system to reduce possibility of fire in the wiring between the components and the afci breaker.