AFCIs are the newest and the greatest in circuit protection. Their role is to protect wiring from a variety of faults and to prevent fires.
Arcing faults are mainly caused by damaged or improperly installed wiring. Due to the fact that those faults can get really hot it is common that they are source of house fire. Wire can fail when screwing into a wire, rodents, driving a nail or loose wire nuts. The other source of fail is age of wiring.
The specification of these breakers is set that it will not reset, until fault exist or the wire is repaired. If it is tripping all the time you ought to call a qualified electrician to locate the problem in your circuit.
Conventional circuit breakers respond only to overloads and short circuits; so they do not protect against arcing conditions that produce erratic and often reduced current. An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter Breaker has a microchip that continuously monitors the current and discriminates between normal and unsafe arcing conditions. When this unsafe arcing conditions are detected the AFC Breaker opens its internal contacts, thus de-energizing the circuit and reducing the potential for a fire occur. An AFC Breaker should not trip during normal conditions, which can occur when switch is opened or a plug is pulled from receptacle.
How to test an Arc Fault breaker? It is simple: hit the button – it should pop open the breaker. Next turn it all off, and turn it back on.
When you find an Arc Fault breaker that is tripped in your house, firstly unplug everything on that circuit, next try to reset it. If it resets it means that it could be a faulty cord or device that was plugged in. If it keep tripping you should call an electrician – because you may have a serious problem under your roof.
Arc Fault breakers are required in all new residential installations in all bedrooms receptacles. Such breakers will not reset when the wire is damaged or is installed not properly.
They really help to prevent electrical fires.