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Old 03-18-2010, 05:48 PM   #1
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Silly question for everyone here. When I plug in my washing machine the GFCI pops. The washing machine is turned off, and right when it's plugged in, it pops.
So far I've been able to run several guitar amps, a stereo, and a wet/dry vac, with no problems. But right when the washing machine plug goes in, the GFCI pops.

Now I noticed that there is no ground in the GFCI outlet, though there could be, it looks like someone just cut it short, and there's enough wiring to pull it through and connect it.

Any ideas?

Any helps is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Lisa

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Old 03-18-2010, 06:14 PM   #2
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


How old is the washing machine ?

I'd connect the ground, does the washer have a 3 prong plug ?

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Old 03-18-2010, 06:25 PM   #3
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Washer is pretty new, within 3 years, LG front load high efficiency standard size (not the giant load ones).

The washer does have three prongs, but so does everything else. The washing machine also works fine when I run an extension cord from another room with no problem.

My room mate has had this rigged for a long time with an extension cord. I just want the extension cord gone now...

I'll try connecting the ground, but from what I've read (yup, even used the search function) a GFCI should not need a ground, or did I read this wrong?
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Old 03-18-2010, 06:38 PM   #4
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


If a ground is there it should be connected
A GFCI will work without a ground
The outlet needs to be marked "No ground present"
--these stickers come with the GFCI

Is the extension cord plugged into another GFCI outlet ?

Have you always had the washer at this location & this has always happened ?

The GFCI outlet pops (reset) ? Not the breaker right ?
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Old 03-18-2010, 06:59 PM   #5
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Does the washing machine have a clock or other electronic controls?

I am guessing the obvious, there is a ground fault. Perhaps when some electronic device inside is on all the time and letting current return to ground instead of neutral, even when the cycle knob is off.

To test this theory, plug the washing machine in using a 3 to 2 prong adapter but not connecting the ground tab on the adapter to anything. Just for a few minutes. I would expect that the GFCI does not trip this time.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-18-2010 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 03-18-2010, 07:00 PM   #6
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


not good to run on extension cord
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Old 03-18-2010, 07:21 PM   #7
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Alright, connected the ground, still no dice. Connected a power strip which was turned off, still, connecting the washer plug to the turned off power strip trips the GFCI.

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To test this theory, plug the washing machine in using a 3 to 2 prong adapter but not connecting the ground tab on the adapter to anything. Just for a few minutes. I would expect that the GFCI does not trip this time.
I'm assuming it's bad to keep running it with the adapter if it works?
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:11 PM   #8
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


A GFCI is like a "bank teller" counting the electricity going out one prong and coming back in the other prong. (The flat prongs of the plug that is.)

If the same exact amount of electricity comes back that was "sent out", then the GFCI knows all is well and does not trip.

But if some of the electricity is "missing" and does not return on the other prong, then the GFCI sounds the "alarm" and cuts off power.

Some of that "missing" electricity could be going through a person's body and shocking them! And that is what a GFCI is designed to do, protect people from being shocked.

With that said, things with electric motors like washing machines tend to "leak" a little electricity. The motors can become dirty and wet, then electricity "leaks" from the electrical wires in the motor to the metal case of the motor. And from there to "ground" (the 3rd prong on the plug, to a water connection and the water pipes, or to the floor).

So the "right" thing for me to tell you to do would be to have the washing machine serviced.

As to the 3rd ground prong connection on the outlet, it is *very* important that you use this. Should there be a BIG leak of electricity to the metal case of the washing machine, this would cause the regular circuit breaker to turn off the electricity - protecting you from being shocked. A good thing!

So when you are testing different outlets and using an extention cord for testing, be sure to use a 3 prong cord without an adapter.
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:02 PM   #9
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Excellent explanation, Billy Bob.
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Old 03-19-2010, 12:37 AM   #10
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Does a leak in a washer explain why the gfci pops when not just the washer is off, but the power strip it is plugged into os off?
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:01 AM   #11
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Washing machine plugged into power strip. Power strip plugged into GFCI receptacle. Power strip turned off.

The GFCI can still trip if other things on the circuit downstream of the GFCI are turned on even if not plugged into the same power strip. Power used by those other things can get between neutral and ground by coming over to the power strip on the neutral, out the neutral into the washing machine, through a ground fault in the latter, and back on the ground through the power strip. If nothing else on the circuit is turned on, you should not get a GFCI trip with the washing machine plugged into the powers strip turned off.

You will need to either fix the machine or use it on a non-GFCI receptacle. So long as the washing machine cabinet is grounded, it is safe to use even if a ground fault is in it. It would not be code compliant, though. The GFCI protects you when you use ungrounded (two prong) tools or other equipment or if the tool should somehow become ungrounded and you are touching metal parts of it.

You can make a redundant ground bonding for good measure by screwing a #14 or so single conductor wire to the machine cabinet with the other end connected to a known grounded object. (This will not bring the washing machine into code compliance.) Using the GFCI protected circuit with a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter plus running the external ground wire will still trip the GFCI.

A little leak of current to the washing machine cabinet is just as dangerous as a big leak since it can take less than a twentieth of an ampere to electrocute you.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-19-2010 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:28 AM   #12
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Washing machines do not require GFCI protection. If the receptacle for the machine is within 6' of a sink then it must be a GFI. That being said, it is still strange that the GFCI is tripping. What brand is the GFCI? Is there another GFCI in the house that you plug the washer into via an extenion cord as test?

Last edited by brric; 03-19-2010 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:35 AM   #13
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Washing machine plugged into power strip. Power strip plugged into GFCI receptacle. Power strip turned off.

The GFCI can still trip if other things on the circuit downstream of the GFCI are turned on even if not plugged into the same power strip. Power used by those other things can get between neutral and ground by coming over to the power strip on the neutral, out the neutral into the washing machine, through a ground fault in the latter, and back on the ground through the power strip. If nothing else on the circuit is turned on, you should not get a GFCI trip with the washing machine plugged into the powers strip turned off.

You will need to either fix the machine or use it on a non-GFCI receptacle. So long as the washing machine cabinet is grounded, it is safe to use even if a ground fault is in it. It would not be code compliant, though. The GFCI protects you when you use ungrounded (two prong) tools or other equipment or if the tool should somehow become ungrounded and you are touching metal parts of it.

You can make a redundant ground bonding for good measure by screwing a #14 or so single conductor wire to the machine cabinet with the other end connected to a known grounded object. Using the GFCI receptacle with a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter plus running the external ground wire will not work.

A little leak of current to the washing machine cabinet is just as dangerous as a big leak since it can take less than a twentieth of an ampere to electrocute you.
Thanks for explaining how a serious risk can be present even with equipment being off. It may not be a good idea, but until I get my garage wired I am running some power tools off of a power strip plugged in to the end of a gfci receptacle and I assumed there was no risk as long as the equipment was off. Now I know better.

I don't believe LisaZ indicated that anything else is "plugged into" the circuit. Could the power leak "downstream" be coming from a circuit for lighting or a ceiling fan coming off of the particular receptacle?
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:57 AM   #14
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Washing machine plugged into power strip. Power strip plugged into GFCI receptacle. Power strip turned off.

The GFCI can still trip if other things on the circuit downstream of the GFCI are turned on even if not plugged into the same power strip. Power used by those other things can get between neutral and ground by coming over to the power strip on the neutral, out the neutral into the washing machine, through a ground fault in the latter, and back on the ground through the power strip. If nothing else on the circuit is turned on, you should not get a GFCI trip with the washing machine plugged into the powers strip turned off.

You will need to either fix the machine or use it on a non-GFCI receptacle. So long as the washing machine cabinet is grounded, it is safe to use even if a ground fault is in it. It would not be code compliant, though. The GFCI protects you when you use ungrounded (two prong) tools or other equipment or if the tool should somehow become ungrounded and you are touching metal parts of it.

You can make a redundant ground bonding for good measure by screwing a #14 or so single conductor wire to the machine cabinet with the other end connected to a known grounded object. (This will not bring the washing machine into code compliance.) Using the GFCI protected circuit with a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter plus running the external ground wire will still trip the GFCI.

A little leak of current to the washing machine cabinet is just as dangerous as a big leak since it can take less than a twentieth of an ampere to electrocute you.
Where did you come up with this information?
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Old 03-19-2010, 12:48 PM   #15
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GFCI pops when Washer is plugged in


New test.

Turn off everything on that branch circuit. Plug in the washing machine (no plug adapter).

If the GFCI does not trip this time with the machine still off, then it may be easier to service the machine. The electrician will then want to trace the inside of the machine starting with the neutral side, checking for abraded or pinched wires. This part you can do yourself, do a continuity check between the neutral prong and ground prong of the plug, although this does not prove anything if the machine has a clock or other electronic stuff that is on all the time.
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Where did you come up with this information?
Draw a schematic diagram for the branch circuit including all items: power strip, GFCI, ceiling fan, etc. but not including the washing machine innards. (Treat the machine as a black box with three conductors going in: hot, neutral, ground.) Mark in a neutral to ground fault for the washing machine.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-19-2010 at 12:57 PM.
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