Refrigerator tripping GFCI

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Old 07-24-17, 03:33 PM
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Refrigerator tripping GFCI

I have an interesting scenario that I can't get a solid answer for. I have an outdoor refrigerator that is tripping my GFCI. I have called the manufacturer and they tell me it must not be to a protected circuit. This makes no sense as all outdoor circuits are required to be protected, and this is an outdoor refrigerator.

I have done lot of reading and there is apparently a condition called EMI produced by motors. The thought is that the refrigerator's auto defrost is kicking in causing the protection to trip. There is something called an snubber that can be installed but google isn't helping much there.

Is this a known issue? Can anyone help - would a snubber work?
 
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Old 07-24-17, 05:00 PM
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A snubber is used to reduce turn-on/turn-off voltage spikes.
A GFI is not affected by voltage spikes. Only leakage to ground.

Your problem is you have a leak to ground.
Most likely the compressor but you mention the defrost and yes..... the heater can also leak to ground.

These are unacceptable problems with the fridge. There is no "cure" other than to replace the unit or go in with a volt/ohmmeter to locate the faulted item.
 
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Old 07-24-17, 06:24 PM
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Thank you for the explanation. Fortunately the fridge is 2 weeks old and from Costco. Back it goes.
 
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Old 07-24-17, 07:38 PM
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GFCI can false trip with inductive loads such as large motors, pumps and compressors.

GFCI works by comparing current going out from hot and coming back to neutral. If there are differences, GFCI trips.

Inductor (or coil) will store some energy on start-up, thus not all current will come back to neutral.
Most GFCI outlets are designed to trip at 5mA differences, but some GFCIs are more sensitive then the other.
You might want to try replacing GFCI with different model/brand.
If your exterior outlets are on a separate breaker, may even try replacing the breaker with GFCI breaker and install a regular outlet in place of GFCI outlet.


It still is possible that the refrigerator is defect, but no easy way to test since it trips only under certain condition.

It also can be the problem with the wiring or the outlet.

I once tried fixing GFCI tripping issue at my friend's house and it took 2 months to figure out the problem. This GFCI circuit was powering pond pump. Tried replacing GFCI, tried waterproofing outlets better, tried replacing the pond yet still had random trips on a rainy days.
The issue was in one of the junction box neutral was nicked a little and this nicked area was sitting right against metal exterior junction box also this junction box was full of dead ants. On a rainy day the moisture caused current leak from nicked neutral to grounded junction box through wet dead ants.

This may be similar issue you might have.
GFCI will not trip even if neutral is shorted to ground when there are no loads behind it. If you never had a constant load on this outlet and had a intermittent current leak at neutral, you might never notice the problem.
 
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Old 07-31-17, 07:32 PM
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Good evening. Well, I thought the fridge was my problem but turns out that is not the case. I plugged the fridge into a nearby, previously installed GFI and it hasn't tripped in days. This means it has to be the new circuit recently wired. I have replaced the GFI, confirmed the wiring inside each gang box and have completely sealed all boxes with caulking.

I'd like to rule out each run on the circuit but don't of any easy way of testing continuity without physically disconnecting all downstream boxes one at a time. Is there a continuity test that I can run when the situation arises? To refresh, the GFI is tripping every evening. I am assuming this is happening when the moisture rises either via rain or heavy dew.
 
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Old 07-31-17, 07:42 PM
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You'd need a decent meter set to Rx100 or auto-ranging. You'd check it right at the GFI that's tripping. Remove the load wires (lines can stay on) and check from white to ground and black to ground. There should be no continuity measured.
 
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Old 07-31-17, 08:31 PM
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Since your GFCI does not trip immediately, you don't have a dead short. This means it won't be easy to test with a multimeter.
As PJmax said, if you have a good "digital" auto ranging multimeter, you may be able to check resistance between neutral and ground (with neutral disconnected from GFCI or the outlet before where you are testing) and faulty circuit may show lower resistance. Maybe in kohms range. You won't see a continuity as your problem is intermittent.


Best thing you can do is open each outlet/junction box down stream of the GFCI and inspect for any damages to the wiring or possible current leak path (ie. dead bug, water inside outlet).
 
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Old 07-31-17, 10:20 PM
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You guys are great, thanks for the quick reply. I have a digital multi meter, not sure if it's an auto whatchmacallit. I'll try to run through the recommendations and be sure to report back.
 
 

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