AFCI breaker replacement

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MRubenzahl

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My Dad used to say, "You had to play with it until it broke, didn't you!"

Well, yes, I did.

I pressed the little yellow TEST button on an AFCI circuit breaker and it did as it should, tripped the breaker. I flipped it back on and damn! It feels like it's on but the circuit is dead.

My questions:

1. I assume the breaker needs replacement, yes? I can't imagine what else might be the issue.
2. Just curious: Is this a known thing? I seem to recall that older AFCI units are unreliable. This one is about 12 years old.
3. What should I buy to replace it? I can DIY this but anything I should know (other than turn off the power!)? To buy one, I am guessing the spec is: "Eaton AFCI type BRAF, 15 amp." But I see several possible models at Home Depot Eaton Breaker.jpg or Amazon, not sure what to get.
4. I assume I should replace with AFCI and not something lesser (and maybe more reliable?).

Thanks all! And yes, Dad, I had to play with it.
 

Sparky617

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AFCI are more sensitive than regular breakers. If your panel is Eaton/CH you need to use one of their replacements. What does this breaker power? AFCI/GFCI combos are now required on many more circuits with the latest version of the code, but you're not required to retro fit your house to the current code. If I had to update all of mine when I added a new panel in the basement I'd need a new sub for the rest of the house, it's full with several dual breakers, I don't have enough room for the large AFCI/GFCI breakers which each occupy a single space in the panel. As to DIY, it can be done especially with the power off to the entire panel.
 

jcar932

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Did you try turning it all the way off and back on? If not you have one of two things: a persistent ground fault (not likely if it only happened when the thing was tested) or it's busted. This is a BR115AF. You may be confused because they also make a BFP115AF which is designed for a plug on neutral panel.
 

jcar932

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AFCI are more sensitive than regular breakers. If your panel is Eaton/CH you need to use one of their replacements. What does this breaker power? AFCI/GFCI combos are now required on many more circuits with the latest version of the code, but you're not required to retro fit your house to the current code. If I had to update all of mine when I added a new panel in the basement I'd need a new sub for the rest of the house, it's full with several dual breakers, I don't have enough room for the large AFCI/GFCI breakers which each occupy a single space in the panel. As to DIY, it can be done especially with the power off to the entire panel.
AFCI is required in more places than it used to, but GFCI has only had very minor tweaks over the years.
 

MRubenzahl

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Great tips, thank you.
This is a BR115AF. You may be confused because they also make a BFP115AF which is designed for a plug on neutral panel.
Thank you. My device is marked BR115CAF, which I am not finding online. Eaton's website doesn't show it but they show the BR115AF as discontinued and the substitutes they show are all plug-on-neutral. Sigh.

I found a BRCAF115 ($55) which looks the same as the one I am replacing and one listing for a BR115AF ($90) which looks somewhat different but seems similar. Both have pigtails. Anyone understand Eaton's numbers well enough to advise me? My guess is that either of these will work.


What does this breaker power?
It powers the lights in a bedroom and bath. From what I read, looks like bedrooms require AFCI (but for some reason, the outlets don't have AFCI, though I believe they are all on a GFCI outlet).
 

Sparky617

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AFCI is required in more places than it used to, but GFCI has only had very minor tweaks over the years.
I'm in the process of finishing my basement. I had to use combo AFCI/GFCI on all the circuits outlets and lighting. I'm not up on the current code, but I think the AFCIs are pretty much required everywhere these days with the GFCI addition for outdoors, garages, basements, kitchens and baths.
 

jcar932

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You can use BR115AF and CAF interchangeably. They are both combination arc faults. The BRAF115 on the other hand is only a branch feeder arc fault and that has limited usefulness (i.e., don't bother).

The requirements for Arc Faults changed over time. Initially, AFCI was only required for 15A and 20A circuits feeding bedroom outlets (not just receptacles, but all outlets including lighting). That was supplanted a few years later with the requirement that covered just about everything that didn't require a GFCI, and then ultimately with what we have now that covers just about all living space.

Bathroom RECEPTACLES require GFCI. GFCI is required for all receptacles in: kitchens, bathrooms, basements (finished or unfinished now), garages, outside, laundry area, anywhere within 6' of a sink, shower, or tub, and a few more.
 

afjes_2016

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4. I assume I should replace with AFCI and not something lesser (and maybe more reliable?).

Reliable: Adjective -
consistently good in quality or performance; able to be trusted.

Actually, a AFCI breaker is as reliable as a regular breaker and it gives more protection to the circuit. Tripping may be caused by an arc somewhere in the circuit. An AFCI and GFCI breaker may seem inconvenient at times because of the extra tripping as in the breakers detect more in a circuit than a regular breaker does. The extra tripping is because of a ground fault or arc fault in the circuit.

Just because an AFCI or GFCI breaker may trip more often than a regular breaker does not mean it is less reliable it just means the design of it is to catch more faults in the circuit than a regular breaker. Yes, it may cause more trips and more troubleshooting time but in the end with their extra protection they are worth it, especially if there is an arc fault in the circuit which could cause a fire in the end.




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