Older model refridgerators on GFCI's and nuiance trips


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Old 12-25-13, 03:32 AM
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Older model refridgerators on GFCI's and nuiance trips

I've had 2 clients that report random GFCI trips where they have a kitchen GFCI outlet where the refridgerator is plugged in. Granted, it is in close proxmity to a water source (kitchen sink), and according to some codes, this is as it should be.

In both cases, I scraped the copper wires clean and shiny, replaced the GFCI, and checked everything, tightened the screws, carefully replaced the outlet. All is well. Some months later I get a call that for no apparent reason the GFCI tripped again and the food has gone bad. Clients swear nothing else has been plugged into that outlet.

At this point, I'm ready to just cut in a duplex outlet box, put the GFCI on one side, and wire the other half to a straight receptical connected to line, and put the little sticker on it that says "NOT GFCI PROTECTED"; plug the fridge into it and call it done.

How do you justify when "safety measures" outweigh practical everyday function? I don't want to electrocute anybody, but having a fridge full of food go bad because of a quirk GFCI trip could be a disaster to some families.

Thanks everybody.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 04:01 AM
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I'm not an electrician [ they should be along later] but it's always been my understanding that it was ok/preferable to not have a GFI at the fridge. Is the receptacle behind the fridge where it's unlikely nothing else would be plugged in there? IMO as long as only the fridge is plugged into that outlet - it doesn't need a GFI. If the fridge cord is plugged in at the countertop/backsplash, I'd consider installing an outlet directly behind the fridge. Ideally a fridge would be on it's own dedicated circuit.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 06:07 AM
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As Marksr said, refrigerator compressors and GFCI's don't make good bedfellows, so to speak. Refrigerator receptacles are separate from the two 20 amp GFCI protected circuits required for small appliance countertop use, so having a non-GFCI receptacle there would be preferred.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 08:06 AM
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While it is OK for the refrigerator to be on the small appliance circuit, many manufactures recommend/require the fridge to be on it own circuit.

A tripping GFCI with an older appliance is a sign that the appliance is reaching the end of it life and is leaking current to ground. It has nothing to do with the connection of the wires.

I suggest swapping out the offending GFCI with a new one as I have seen older GFCI's that will trip while other do not. If that does not work, then replacing the fridge is the safest course of action.

Adding a non-GFCI protected outlet that is not over/accessible to the counter (IE: behind the fridge for example) is an option, but it really just bypasses what the GFCI is designed to do, protect from shock hazard. However, it would be legal according to the Code.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 09:51 AM
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If the refrigerator is tripping the GFI it needs to be repaired. The UL leakage standard is way lower than the trip level of the 5 mA GFI.

While losing a refrigerator full of food may be an economic heartache it is nothing compared to losing a family member due to a faulty appliance.

Commercial refrigerators are required to be GFI protected.
 
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Old 12-25-13, 03:41 PM
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I agree with PC and Tolyn, if the refrigerator is causing the GFCI to trip then the refrigerator is the problem, not the GFCI. My refrigerator is fourteen years old and has been running on a GFCI circuit breaker since day one and I have never had it trip. Testing the GFCI, either by pushing the test button or by using a GFCI tester causes the CB to trip instantly.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 07:07 PM
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Just to reiterate, I have in the past found where an older GFCI will nuisance trip while a new one will not. It would worth it to replace it unless it is already new.
 
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Old 12-27-13, 07:37 AM
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Just to reiterate, I have in the past found where an older GFCI will nuisance trip while a new one will not. It would worth it to replace it unless it is already new.
Agree. ..........................................
 
 

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