How To Look At A House
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What is the breaker with a blue test button?
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
If the breaker looks like the example above, and it’s in a Square D panel, then it is an early AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter). These breakers are in panels from the early 2000’s. Unfortunately, this model had problems and was recalled by Square D back in November, 2004. Newer ones are updated to be CAFCI's (Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters).
There is a data sticker on the part of the face of the breaker that is concealed by the dead front (only visible by removing the dead front) that details its specs.
Cause of the recall, as described by the manufacturer, is that “an electronic component failure inside the AFCIs can cause the devices to not detect an electrical arc. Although the AFCIs will function as regular circuit breakers, they may not detect an arc fault, posing a safety risk to consumers.” We still occasionally come across them in a home inspection, and always recommend replacement.
If the test button is dark blue, like in the photo below. then it’s a Siemens AFCI breaker.
Also see our blog posts Why is there a purple test button on the circuit breaker? and What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?
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