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Old 08-01-2015, 01:50 PM   #1
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


I came home from being out of town for a week to find my refrigerator off and all the food spoiled. I have a 20A GFCI that I installed 5 years ago to feed the kitchen and it was tripped. I hit the reset and it immediately tripped again... and again, and again, and again.

I unplugged the refrigerator and reset the GFCI and it was ok. I connected the toaster to the refrigerator outlet and turned on both sides with no issues. Plugged the refrigerator back in and the GFCI tripped.

The problem seems to be the icemaker. Last Monday morning before I left town, we ran out of ice because the bar was up. I cleared the ice jam blocking the bar and pushed it down just before we left the house. When we got home and the GFCI was tripped there was no water in the ice tub or around the fridge so I assume that it failed almost immediately after I moved the bar down.

I plugged the refrigerator into a non-GFCI circuit and it appears to work - yes, I know the risks and dangers. The refrigerator is getting cold and the water dispenser works but it's not making ice.

So, all told, I believe it's the icemaker. Does it seem right that it is a refrigerator repair person and not an electrician that I need to call?

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Last edited by dalepres; 08-01-2015 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 08-01-2015, 03:54 PM   #2
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


Gfci's go bad. Put in a new one.
Manufacturers usually tell you to put the refrigerator on it's own circuit. As well as the DW. I have about 20 circuits in my kitchen with it's own subpanel. Makes trouble shooting very easy.

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Old 08-01-2015, 04:02 PM   #3
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


Sounds like the gfci is doing it's job.
You could replace is as a test, or use and extension cord and plug into another gfci, but it seems the fridge is at fault.
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Old 08-01-2015, 05:00 PM   #4
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


It's old wiring - or at least was old wiring - and there are two 20 amp circuits in the kitchen serving the fridge, counter tops, disposal, dishwasher, and lighting. I rewired the whole kitchen about 5 years ago but the panel didn't have room to add any additional circuits. All of the branch circuits were already half-height breakers.

Last fall I replaced the main panel with a Siemens generator-ready panel and now I have plenty of breaker space; maybe another rewire is in the future but I'm not looking forward to ripping it all apart again.

So, if I understand my GFCIs correctly, what trips it is any leakage current flowing in the ground wire, right? Even though the toaster doesn't have a ground connection, if any leakage was happening in the wiring it would still happen with the toaster and not just with the refrigerator. The refrigerator has a ground terminal so it's able to induce a current on the ground that the toaster cannot - still pointing, then, to the refrigerator.
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Old 08-01-2015, 05:18 PM   #5
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


GFCIs trip on the current difference between the hot and neutral. It doesn't matter where the missing current has gone.

So a 2wire appliance leaking current would still trip the GFCI.
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Old 08-01-2015, 06:18 PM   #6
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


Try unplugging the icemaker only, then see if the fridg works with the GFCI. If OK replace icemaker.
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Old 08-10-2015, 04:06 PM   #7
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


You do not have to be on a GFCI.

In a Dwelling Unit (house or apartment) refrigerators located inside the kitchen do NOT have to have a GFCI. See 210.8(A)(6), Exhibit 210.13, 210.52(B)(1), 210.52(B)(2), 210.52(B)(3), and Exhibit 210.28. If the circuit feeding the refrigerator outlet is branched to any other outlet, it must be a 20-A circuit. If the circuit feeding the refrigerator outlet is a dedicated individual circuit, than it can be either 15-A or 20-A

So if it is a dedicated circuit then you do not need it.
Hope that helps.
Have a great day.
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Old 08-11-2015, 06:23 AM   #8
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


Quote:
Originally Posted by mccartyser View Post
You do not have to be on a GFCI.
So your theory here is to expose someone to a dangerous electrical problem. The GFCI is tripping because there is a problem with the fridge (or ice maker). Eliminating the GFCI will stop the tripping problem but may potentially expose someone to an electrical shock.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:52 AM   #9
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


Quote:
Originally Posted by danpik View Post
So your theory here is to expose someone to a dangerous electrical problem. The GFCI is tripping because there is a problem with the fridge (or ice maker). Eliminating the GFCI will stop the tripping problem but may potentially expose someone to an electrical shock.
Most likely it is leaking to the ground and is harmless; but testing is necessary.

I wonder what the OP has done in the last two weeks.
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Old 08-11-2015, 04:56 PM   #10
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


Wow, I`m sorry. I was just saying that GFIC was not required on a frig.
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Old 08-14-2015, 09:36 PM   #11
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Refrigerator trips GFCI


Quote:
Originally Posted by Toller View Post
Most likely it is leaking to the ground and is harmless; but testing is necessary.

I wonder what the OP has done in the last two weeks.
The OP has been so busy working for the last two weeks that the fridge has set.

I did put it back on the original GFI and, for whatever reason, it worked. I left it on the GFI for a couple days and it continued to work. I put it back on the other circuit for now until I have more confidence that all is well.

I think both danpik and toller are correct. Danpik is correct in that something was definitely wrong. The fridge has worked on that circuit for several years. On the other hand, toller is right, I think, in that it was probably not a high-risk; a little leakage current to ground. The ground is good and I'm not getting shocked.

So, here's my guess. THe week we were gone there was a power outage during a storm. I later learned that all the GFIs at my in-laws, next door, popped as well. There was probably a lightning strike in the storm. Perhaps some ice melted, dripped, caused a temporary short...

or perhaps not. First off, if melting ice could cause a short, that would be scary; we could burn the house down after a power outage.

So, really I have no clue what happened that is not happening now.

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