DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Happened as follows:

Was leaning on stainless steel countertop with one hand, touched the metal door of refrigerator with the other. Shock. Felt like 9v batteries you put on your tongue as a kid, except in both hands. Not quite injurious, but tingly fingers for a minute.

Checked the back of the fridge (fairly new to this home), and see that the fridge's 3 prong plug is plugged into an adapter/cheater and then into an ungrounded (obviously) two prong socket with no cover. Awesome.

Electrician came out and looked, said voltage is leaking, options are:
1. He can ground the outlet.
2. He can put GFCI outlet in.

From my knowledge, GFCI is fine, only drawback are possible "nuisance trips" that can spoil food if they go unnoticed. But many things I've seen say if your GFCI is tripping, it is for a reason, and should be addressed. Those are my thoughts. Safety of family and kids are without cost, so I would take a fridge of spoiled food for safety in return.

Anywho, he puts in GFCI, no voltage leaking anymore, surmises it was the outlet that was the problem. Plugs fridge back in, this time to the new GFCI outlet, it runs fine, and no longer shocks me if I touch it and the grounded countertop. Great!

About 8hrs later, open fridge, light is off. Check plug, and the GFCI has tripped. Reset GFCI, try plugging fridge in again, and GFCI trips immediately, before plug can be inserted all the way. 3 tries, same result. I plug fridge back into cheater and into GFCI. No trip from the GFCI, and fridge is working (apparently I don't realize that GFCI provides no protection to anything without a 3 prong plug?), as I touch countertop and fridge door, and shocked again, just like before.

So now I am back where I started, except with a GFCI outlet. I unplug fridge, and try other things in the new GFCI outlet, namely, two minifridges that I have kept my food in ever since the original fridge shocked me the first time. Both of those are fridges w 3 prong plugs, and neither of them trip the GFCI, and run fine (so far).

So, my amateur summation is that I have a faulty original fridge (must be short circuiting), and I should replace the fridge.

My questions, should anyone have read this far down and care to help me out are:

-If indeed the (original) fridge is the culprit and needs replacing.

-Or if there is a problem with the outlet. Electrician seemed to think the outlet was the problem, as he didn't tell me to replace fridge. Although fridge was working when he left (and for 8 more hrs), on the new GFCI he installed.

-Why it took 8hrs for the original fridge to initially trip the GFCI (but then subsequently trip the GFCI immediately everytime I try to plug it in thereafter).

Thanks to anyone reading this novel!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
A GFCI trips if there's a difference in the amount of current in the hot lead vs the neutral lead. If there is a difference, the "missing" current must be flowing through the ground connection. When you use the 2-prong cheater plug, there is no ground connection, which forces the two currents to be equal, and the GFCI doesn't trip.

Using the 3-prong plug (as you should be) provides a ground path. If there's a frayed wire or something similar inside the fridge, some of the current coming in on the hot lead is finding its way to the ground of the refrigerator. And the GFCI trips, as it should.

I'd say odds on the problem is in the fridge wiring. But you may not have to replace it. You or an appliance repairman may be able to repair the wiring and save yourself $1K or so.

Why it took 8 hours to trip the first time I have no idea.
 

·
Mold!! Let's kill it!
Joined
·
2,849 Posts
My guess would be that the fridge finally went into some other mode where the short is occuring. Mike probably hit it. In defrost mode, something in the refrigerator is shorted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
My first guess was also defrost cycle.

The best thing to do would be to have your electrician ground that outlet, preferably by running a new wire.

Then I would get an appliance guy to check the fridge. Is it under warranty?

What is the make and model of the fridge?

Where are you located and please put your location in your profile.

Also, replacing an ungrounded plug with a GFCI is the proper fix according to the 2011 National elec code, so your electrician did do the right thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
Could also be the ice maker or mullion strip heaters. Only things I can think of that would cycle on and off.
 

·
Licensed Electrician
Joined
·
4,352 Posts
Could also be the ice maker or mullion strip heaters. Only things I can think of that would cycle on and off.
Compressor?
 
  • Like
Reactions: TTW

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts

·
Licensed Electrician
Joined
·
4,352 Posts
About 8hrs later, open fridge, light is off. Check plug, and the GFCI has tripped. Reset GFCI, try plugging fridge in again, and GFCI trips immediately, before plug can be inserted all the way
He noticed it had tripped 8 hours later.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dave632

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,982 Posts
You were not electrocuted. If you were you would not be writing this.

Definition of ELECTROCUTE

1
: to execute (a criminal) by electricity

2
: to kill by electric shock
elec·tro·cu·tion \-ˌlek-trə-ˈkyü-shən\ noun
 

·
Licensed Electrical Cont.
Joined
·
7,829 Posts
You were not electrocuted. If you were you would not be writing this.

Definition of ELECTROCUTE

1
: to execute (a criminal) by electricity

2
: to kill by electric shock
elec·tro·cu·tion \-ˌlek-trə-ˈkyü-shən\ noun
:laughing: :laughing:
I was waiting for this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Couldn't you check for continuity between hot neutral and ground on the frig plug I would think there shouldn't be any continuity between them . And get a ground on your reseptical . You better be carful if that shock gets worse somebody could get hurt.
 

·
Electrical Contractor
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
I've seen things like defrost and door frame heaters develop a fault that can cause such problems. Or a shorted winding in a compressor can also do this.

When you are getting shocked, the entire outside frame of the fridge is hot, and touching a grounded surface can cause you to feel the voltage.

Bypassing the grounding prong on a cord is not a good thing to do, as you have first-hand knowledge of what can happen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for the feedback guys.

When the original fridge was plugged into the new GFCI and ran for 8hrs, the compressor was running and everything was functioning/cold, I checked every hour or two. After a few hours, I unloaded my two mini fridges and put everything from them back in the original fridge/freezer as I thought it was all good. Then around hour 8, I went to get something and light was off/GFCI was tripped. Mystery how it ran and was cold for 8hrs before tripping, but assume it is safe to say it is a problem with the original fridge, as the GFCI won't allow it to be plugged in anymore without tripping.

I think I will go fridge shopping this weekend.

TTW - "The best thing to do would be to have your electrician ground that outlet, preferably by running a new wire."

Now that there is a functioning GFCI in place, what additional benefit would grounding the outlet provide?

Also, the fridge is a Frigidaire Gallery Professional Series, Model # FRS26ZSH

Jim - Thanks for the correction!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
...

TTW - "The best thing to do would be to have your electrician ground that outlet, preferably by running a new wire."

Now that there is a functioning GFCI in place, what additional benefit would grounding the outlet provide?
The GFCI is providing you with one form of protection. However, you still have an ungrounded outlet, and lack the protection/safety that a separate ground provides.
 

·
Mold!! Let's kill it!
Joined
·
2,849 Posts
I worked on a fridg that did the same thing. There was a short in the heat strip that defrosted around the freezer door. Only when that strip cycled on did it trip the breaker. Disconnected it and put up with manual defrost and all was well until I got a new heat strip.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,497 Posts
...Now that there is a functioning GFCI in place, what additional benefit would grounding the outlet provide?...
Grounding is a safety feature. The metal case of appliances is connected to the 3rd ground prong of the outlet. And in a modern home with all up to code electrical wiring, metal plumbing objects like a sink or faucet would be grounded as well.

So the sink and refrigerator metal case would always be at the same electrical "level" (Called "potential".) Basically that means you would never get shocked even if a wire shorted to ground like has happened with your refrigerator.

Then when something shorts to ground, one of two things happens. If it is a "small short" - leaking a small bit of electricity, the circuit breaker would not trip and you also would not be shocked even though a small amount of electricity was flowing through the ground connection. But you WOULD have a higher electric bill!

If it was a "large short", then the circuit breaker would trip - safely turning off the electricity. And again you would not be shocked.

A GFCI is also a safety device. This detects electricity flowing to "ground". If there was a short and ALL the electricity did not loop through the electrical wires (like when you were shocked and some was flowing through your body), then it will instantly shut off the electricity.

The thing is that GFCI's detect very small amounts of "leaking" electricity. And things like electric motors (like in a refrigerator) commonly do this. So you could come home and find your refrigerator (new) with the power off some day. But that would not happen with a grounded non-GFCI outlet.

Personally I prefer a refrigerator / freezer to be on a grounded outlet and not on a GFCI.

And so far as your situation, I would go look for a new refrigerator. Newer refrigerators use less energy - so lower electric bill.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
I worked on a fridg that did the same thing. There was a short in the heat strip that defrosted around the freezer door. Only when that strip cycled on did it trip the breaker. Disconnected it and put up with manual defrost and all was well until I got a new heat strip.
Don't trash the fridge yet!

Many of the neweer fridges actually install 2 mullion strip heaters (heat strip that defrosted around the freezer door) at the factory, so if the original one fails, the appliance guy comes out, unplugs the original, plugs in the other plug and collects your money.

Also, a properly wired and grounded outlet is really a good idea, should be 12-2 on a dedicated 20 amp circuit.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top