Re: AFCI Nuisance Tripping #QST

Greg - KO6TH

Wow, I thought my house was the only one.  It should have burned down 3 times due to the wiring. 

Apparently the inspector thought it was ok.  Instead of wire nuts, the electrician simply put a crimp ring around the (untwisted) wires and then wrapped them with tape.  Over time, the single point of contact got warm and oxidized, creating more heat, creating more oxidization, etc...  My wife noticed one of the light switches in our bathroom was a little warm and alerted me.  The tape wrap was starting to char.  I figured it was a bad connection, repaired it with nuts, and all was fine.

Tab forward a couple of years, and the smoke alarm went off in the upstairs hallway.  We didn't smell anything, but tracked it down to the wire splice that happened to be in the junction box behind the smoke alarm.  Same issue with the crimp ring.  What luck that it happened there.  With the second failure I went around the house and re-made all of the connections in every junction box with proper wire nuts, finding several others that were on their way out.

But I missed one, behind some furniture in the living room.  One evening while watching TV we smelled smoke, and tracked that one down.  All has been fine since.

One issue I totally dodged was that the home's main electrical service panel was one of the "Zinsco" models, which are known to "fail".  "Fail" as in "catch fire".  We discovered that when I contacted an electrician about adding a 240v outlet for my electric car.  His comment was "Wow, I thought we got rid of all of those years ago.".  Needless to say, it's been replaced (and my car is happy).  There was no sign of an imminent failure, but it's good to have it gone.  Our house was built in 1983.  If you have one of a similar age (70's to early 80's), it might be worth checking your panel to see what model it is.  There are a number of sites discussing this; search for "Is my electric panel safe?" or similar terms.

Stay safe,

Greg  KO6TH

Dennis - WU6X wrote:

For example, while chasing some weird or intermittent electrical issues at a house my Daughter bought in Alabama, I found hot or neutral wires twisted together and taped with black electrical tape, rather than using "wire nuts" as is required here. The ground wires were not "staked" either, simply twisted together and taped. Many of these twisted connections were coming loose and causing lights to flicker or not come on at all, and some plugs were not working at all. Very scary!

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