GFI Trips With Nothing Plugged In

Old 01-18-05, 08:47 PM
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GFI Trips With Nothing Plugged In

A couple weeks ago my GFCI started tripping out after being on for several hours. My house is wired such that all the GFI requiring outlets are grouped together on a single circuit with a GFI circuit breaker in the panel. All the outlets are standard (no GFI) ones. A couple weeks ago the GFI tripped. My initial thought was that since I am in Chicago and it had gotten very cold that my refrigerator out in the garage was struggling and tripping the GFI. I would reset it and it would run for about 12 hours before the circuit tripped out again. After a couple days of this I gave up and unplugged the refrigerator figuring I would have to move it indoors to a non-GFI circuit. Well much to my surprise the behavior continued (GFI would trip out after about 12 hours). I went around the house and unplugged all items in all the GFI protected outlets. The behaviour still continues. The circuit doesn't trip immediately when I reset it, but I go check it after several hours and it tripped. Other than my house being haunted, I presume something is going on in the circuit probably one of the plugs is bad. If I had a short condition, why does it take hours before the GFI is triggered?? My first action will be to replace all the recepticles. Any other thoughts or ideas? Could the breaker itself be at fault?
Appreciate any insights.

Old 01-18-05, 09:07 PM
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GFCIs don't last forever and ones made today are much better than ones made 30 years ago when your house was built. Refrigerators age too, and as they age the current leakage inherent in any motor winding increases too.

Replace the breaker with a new GFCI breaker, or use a regular breaker with a GFCI at the first outlet. Then install a new non-GFCI circuit for your garage refrigerator.
Old 01-19-05, 08:44 AM
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John, thanks for the response. A couple questions.
1) How do I tell which is the "first outlet" in the circuit. The outlets protected by the GFI breaker are scattered throughout the house.
2) Can this simple substitution be done using the existing wiring or would that have to change also? (are they wired in series or parallel?)
3) Wouldn't running a non-GFI circuit to the refrigerator in the garage defeat the purpose/code of having a GFI in the garage? The refrigerator is still sitting on the floor which could get wet.
4) Do refrigerators work in a very cold garage? Some have told me that they really aren't designed for this type of environment (as opposed to freezers).

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