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Old 12-18-2010, 06:47 PM   #1
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


Hi all...

I just purchased a used whirlpool regrigerator for my garage. It appears to be in fairly good condition except for the fact that it started tripping the GFI it is plugged into.

A little background:
I had the fridge plugged into the GFI all day with no problem. I then plugged in the christmas lights at night and the GFI started tripping. I unplugged all the lights and reset the GFI, now it trips immediately upon plugging in the fridge. It also trips other GFIs if I plug it into them using the extension chord.

So my question...I have a standard outlet that I can plug the fridge into but I am worried about the safety of the fridge. I have read on the internet that you typically should not plug refrigerators into GFI outlets so is that the whole problem? Is there anything I can do to ensure that the fridge is safe or test the safety of it? I have two children and want to be cautious. I dont know a lot about electricity. Thoughts? Ideas?

Thanks for your help.

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Old 12-18-2010, 06:56 PM   #2
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


What happens when you plug it into a normal outlet?

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Old 12-18-2010, 07:03 PM   #3
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


It runs fine in a standard outlet
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Old 12-18-2010, 07:06 PM   #4
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


Then it's most likely going to be fine for the garage, and safe for the kiddies too.
There have been problems with GFCIs and fridges, compressors, etc.

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Old 12-18-2010, 08:49 PM   #5
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


I'm thinking that your compressor is about to fail. When the compressor (induction motor) winding insulation starts to break down it allows some electricity to "go to ground" thus tripping your GFCI. It will trip more and more often as the windings fail. If you use a standard grounded plug you should be safe if it were to completely fail. This won't help anything, but try uplugging it when it is running and plugging it right back in. You should hear a faint "tick". It should do this 3-4 tiimes before it actually starts. If it starts back up within 1 minute than your start windings are good.
I need to also say that it could be something else electrical such as the defrost component wiring shorting out causing the GFCI to activate. To verify this disconnect the power from the compressor (safely) and the unit onto a GFCI. Has it been bumped or jarred?
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Old 12-18-2010, 09:13 PM   #6
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


as an appliance repair tech for over 20 years I've seen refrigerators trip GFCIs countless times, it does not neccessarily mean there is any problem with your refrig at all. I've even seen brand new refrigerators trip them, I hate to see refrigerators and washers on GFCIs, I can't even count the number of times I've run a service call for a dead washer only to find it plugged into a GFCI that had tripped.
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:00 AM   #7
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


I would try replacing the GFI with another GFI. They go bad just like everything else.
I've had my washer and basement refrigerator plugged into a GFI for 20 years and never had it trip.
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:24 AM   #8
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


Good point Ron, however, he DID also say
Quote:
Originally Posted by impius View Post
It also trips other GFIs if I plug it into them using the extension chord.
so it's likely not the problem.

But yes, it's never a question of IF something will fail, it's when.... nothing lasts forever.

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Old 12-19-2010, 10:01 AM   #9
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


Quote:
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Good point Ron, however, he DID also say
so it's likely not the problem.

But yes, it's never a question of IF something will fail, it's when.... nothing lasts forever.

DM
That would reinforce the defective GFI, not preclude it. So anything plugged into it trips it.
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Old 12-19-2010, 10:22 AM   #10
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


I don't understand Ron, so you think ALL of his GFCIs are bad???

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Old 12-19-2010, 11:11 AM   #11
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


Quote:
Originally Posted by DangerMouse View Post
I don't understand Ron, so you think ALL of his GFCIs are bad???

DM
So I should read all the words?
Missed that part.
I'd check out each of the GFi's with one of those plug in devices that tells you if the GFI is wired correctly.
Maybe a bad or loose ground.
Or an actual issue with the refrigerator.
Ron
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Old 12-19-2010, 11:41 AM   #12
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


I think basic 'Electricity 101' courses tell you the reasons not to plug appliances like refridgerators into GFCIs...home inspector courses sure do.
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Old 12-19-2010, 12:13 PM   #13
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ccarlisle View Post
I think basic 'Electricity 101' courses tell you the reasons not to plug appliances like refridgerators into GFCIs...home inspector courses sure do.
Code requires all 120 volt receptacles in a commerical kitchen to be gfci protect.
Current code also requires all receptacles in a garage to be gfci protected without exceptions.

Regardless of what HI think the code requires it.

DM, you gave bad advice to the op about using a nongfci receptale!
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Last edited by jbfan; 12-19-2010 at 03:34 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-19-2010, 01:25 PM   #14
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


OK, sorry, but an old fridge, plugged into a standard outlet has been just fine for decades....
How is that bad advice?

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Old 12-19-2010, 02:19 PM   #15
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Refrigerator Tripping GFI, is it safe?


all major appliance manufacturers recommend NOT plugging refrigerators into GFCI outlets.

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