Yet another GFI question

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  #1  
Old 08-27-11, 11:38 AM
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Yet another GFI question

In my mom's home, she has a 20amp circuit from the breaker to a countertop GFI outlet. Downstream from the GFI is the outlet that is in use by the refrigerator. The countertop GFI outlet is never used, the fridge outlet is obviously always in use.

Several weeks ago the GFI tripped and the fridge shut off. The GFI could not be reset. I removed the GFI and found a loose neutral installed in the "backstab" style. I found a similar situation in the fridge outlet. Everything in the breaker panel was tight and in order.

So, I replaced the countertop GFI and the fridge outlet and wired them correctly. Everything worked fine until yesterday when the GFI tripped again. I removed the GFI and everything seemed tight. I then realized that the "line" and "load" cables had been reversed. (should have confirmed the first time.)

So my question is: if the line and load were reversed on the GFI, would this explain the tripping of the GFI outlet?

Or do I likely have a nicked wire or some other short on the system?

Thanks, as always.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 03:40 PM
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Newer GFCI devices will not operate if the line and load are reversed. I have not experienced this but this is what I am told by manufactures and publications.

Test after your fix and see if it trips again. If it does you likely have an issue happening with your fridge. There are workarounds if this is the case.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 04:31 PM
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What company gfi are you using? At our old house, we went through 3 fridges due to tripping gfi, My Dad replaced the Cooper with P&S and we hadn't had a problem.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 08:36 PM
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I was also under the impression that reversing line and load would make the GFI non-functional. But...

A few hours after my original post, the Pass and Seymour GFI tripped. I unplugged the fridge, and just to satisfy curiousity, reversed line and load. The GFI worked, and I was able to operate the fridge until the GFI tripped again about an hour ago.

So, the GFI works wired either way. Both new and old GFIs trip repeatedly in this circuit.

It's late so unless somebody is up late with another suggestion, I'm going to unplug the fridge from the downstream receptacle and plug it into the GFI for the night. I'm hoping that this will help me determine if I have a cable issue, and if so, whether it is between the breaker and GFI, or between the GFI and fridge outlet, or maybe with the fridge itself?

I have the supplies to run a new circuit to the fridge, and that's the direction I'm heading. Probably take less time than all this testing, but want to be certain a new circuit will eliminate the problem.

Thanks again.
 
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Old 08-28-11, 12:36 PM
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Try an extension cord into another GFI. If the problem moves the refrigerator is the culprit.
 
  #6  
Old 08-28-11, 03:02 PM
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Yes, the fridge trips any GFI in the house.

Is it common for refrigerators to do this? Some kind of short inside the fridge? Any thoughts?

I'll try a new cord, but beyond that wondering how much sense it makes to try and identify a short inside the fridge, versus buying a new unit. (Fridge is 15-20 years old).
 
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Old 08-28-11, 03:17 PM
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You will probably be better off with a new refrigerator instead of repairing the old one. The new ones use less energy and no one know how much live is left in your old one.
 
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Old 08-28-11, 03:54 PM
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In the meantime, does the fact that the GFI is tripping indicate a safety hazard within the fridge? Should it be replaced immediately?

According to my mom (owner of the fridge in question), the GFI has tripped a couple of times every summer for the last 3 or 4 years. This is the first time it has been unwilling to reset.

Basically, it is safe to plug in for the next couple of weeks until a new fridge is purchased? Or should I take her out to buy a replacement ASAP.

Thanks.
 
  #9  
Old 08-28-11, 04:31 PM
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Your moms refrigerator is leaking current to its frame. Enough is leaking and the GFI is shutting off to lessen the chance of a shock. Depending on the quality of the circuit through the body to another grounded object like a sink would affect the shock someone could receive.

I would advise to shop sooner rather than later.
 
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Old 08-28-11, 05:43 PM
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Thanks, guess we're going shopping.

If the fridge is leaking current to its frame, that means that somewhere the fridge body is becoming part of the circuit, from a wire that is nicked or pinched or in some way making contact with the frame? Just out of curiosity.
 
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Old 08-28-11, 06:09 PM
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Or beginning of failure of the insulation on the windings inside the hermetically sealed compressor or a breakdown of insulation on the mullion heaters sealed in the walls of the refrigerator.
 
  #12  
Old 08-31-11, 03:15 AM
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Some of these refrigerators also have a capacitor to ground used for radio interference suppression. If they become leaky, that can cause GFCI tripping.
 
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