Welcome to the The Garage Journal Board forums.

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact contact us.

Go Back   The Garage Journal Board > The Garage > Lighting & Electrical

Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 03-01-2011, 02:41 PM   #1
MichiganMan
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Default Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Howdy! Found this place through the magic of Google, and I'm hoping you folks might be able to help me out.

My immediate issue is this: my neighbors redid their kitchen, orphaning their 10 year old GE fridge. Out of the kindness of my heart (and the warmness of my beer), I offered to take in this wayward soul. I moved her into the garage, plugged her in, and all was spiffy for several days.

Today, I walked out to find the GFCI circuit had tripped. There is nothing else plugged in on any of the garage outlets. I unplugged the fridge and was able to reset the GFCI. As soon as I plug in the fridge, it pops the GFCI plug (the fridge outlet is downstream from the GFCI itself), even if the fridge is not turned on. In other words, it is the act of plugging it in, not the compressor starting.

I have previously had a fridge on this same outlet for years with nary a problem (this fridge left recently, along with my ex-wife). The new-to-me fridge was fat dumb and happy in the neighbors kitchen for 10 years.

So, what are my options? Can I replace the GFCI outlet with a regular one? Run a new circuit just for the garage fridge (seems like an awful lot of work to do that). Drink warm beer?

Many thanks!
MichiganMan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 03:10 PM   #2
Tscott
Senior Member
 
Tscott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Keystone Heights, FL.
Posts: 1,269
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

I would try changing out the GFCI before I did anything else. It may have gone bad and just been fluke that it happened at the same as the new fridge arrived. If that fails, then I would think the fridge is shorting to ground in some way and causing the GFCI to trip in which case the fridge either needs to be trashed or fixed.

Tom
Tscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)
Old 03-01-2011, 03:16 PM   #3
MichiganMan
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

That was my first thought, I'll try swapping out the plug this weekend. Eventually I want to build out one bay in my 3 car garage as a workshop, when that happens I'm going to run additional electrical out there, but that is down the road...
MichiganMan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 03:42 PM   #4
lametec
Senior Member
 
lametec's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Michigan
Posts: 1,945
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

If you have a multi-meter, put it on ohm, 30k (or next higher, like 200k) scale.

Measure resistance at the plug (unplugged). Measure from one flat prong to the round ground peg, then from the other flat prong to ground.

Neither one should show anything less than 30k ohm. If you read less than 30k ohm resistance on either prong, the fridge is causing the issue.
lametec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 04:42 PM   #5
MichiganMan
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

lametec, just to be clear this is on the plug on the fridge? I assume it is unplugged during this operation? (I do have a multi-meter but electrical is outside my expertise!)
MichiganMan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 04:54 PM   #6
mrb
Senior Member
 
mrb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 3,735
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

yes, fridge unplugged and measure the male plug on the fridge.
mrb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 04:57 PM   #7
mrb
Senior Member
 
mrb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 3,735
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrb View Post
yes, fridge unplugged and measure the male plug on the fridge.
this is not definitive though, but a starting place. there could be cooked motor insulation that isnt tripping the gfci until the motor comes on or wherever the fault is isnt breaking down without higher voltage.

use the test / reset button on the gfci. if that works then the gfci is good. its most likely the fridge. try another appliance (that you know is healthy and wont trip a gfci) on the outlet before replacing it.

dont eliminate the gfci, its doing its job. (and remember, there is no such thing as nuisance tripping of a gfci)
mrb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 05:27 PM   #8
jonahbones
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern continental landmass
Posts: 100
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Nothing unusual , normal practice down this way has been to have a dedicated non GFCI circuit for fridges. Problem will be the compressor having a high starting current, a little surge above the rating of the circuit.
Changing thermostat on the fridge to an electronic one with a compressor soft start circuit may be one answer.
An electrical insulation fault in the fridge would trip the GFCI immediately.
jonahbones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 05:35 PM   #9
strnjss
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Boston Area
Posts: 320
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Like jonahbones said, I've always heard that anything with a high draw motor or compressor like a refrigerator, dishwasher, etc will trip GFCI's
strnjss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 05:49 PM   #10
Gary S
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Bismarck, ND
Posts: 2,973
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by strnjss View Post
Like jonahbones said, I've always heard that anything with a high draw motor or compressor like a refrigerator, dishwasher, etc will trip GFCI's
I run my garage refrigerator, my 1.5hp 120v compressor, and my 11k BTU AC init in my garage all on GFCI receptacles with no issues. When things are right, it should work for you too.
Gary S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 06:03 PM   #11
Banana #2505
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 19
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

A refrigerator should not be on a GFCI. It should be on it's own dedicated circuit. That's code here in VA.
Banana #2505 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 06:26 PM   #12
Aceman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Eastern Oregon
Posts: 1,918
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana #2505 View Post
A refrigerator should not be on a GFCI. It should be on it's own dedicated circuit. That's code here in VA.
Posts like these.......

Most of the US follows the NEC. Just because VA may have an amendment or be lagging behind on the code cycles doesn't mean everyone else can get away with not having GFCI protection.

If a fridge or whatever trips a GFCI and you change the GFCI and it still trips, it's most likely time to fix or replace whatever you're plugging into it!
Aceman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 06:39 PM   #13
Norcal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 3,862
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

If a GFCI receptacle is tripping, it most likely the equipment on the circuit, not the GFCI, a fridge or freezer should do just fine on a GFCI protected circuit, BTW as time goes on the exceptions allowing non-GFCI receptacles are slowly going away, so get used to them.....
Norcal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 06:46 PM   #14
carcruse
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SE Michigan
Posts: 95
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

When my garage refrigertor did that, it turned out to be the heater for the automatic defroster was bad. It was an old frig and the heater broke in the middle
carcruse is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 07:19 PM   #15
Charles (in GA)
Senior Member
 
Charles (in GA)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: 50 mi south of Atlanta
Posts: 11,002
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by carcruse View Post
When my garage refrigertor did that, it turned out to be the heater for the automatic defroster was bad. It was an old frig and the heater broke in the middle
You can prove out or eliminate this as a problem by locating the defrost timer and turning it manually thru the defrost cycle and back to normal. Then if the fridge does not trip the GFCI its the heat element or over temp thermostat. The elements have glass or ceramics in them and indeed can crack or break. I had the over temp thermostat for the defrost heat element short internally and burn up on one fridge, this too will cause a GFCI trip.

Charles
Charles (in GA) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 07:20 PM   #16
ToddyB
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 64
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Up to 2008, NEC allowed a fridge in a garage to be non-gfci protected if plugged into a single (cannot plug anything else into) receptacle. Many localities lag by a couple code cycles or do not adopt the whole code. Check with the AHJ.
ToddyB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 07:57 PM   #17
cowboyjosh
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 950
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddyB View Post
Up to 2008, NEC allowed a fridge in a garage to be non-gfci protected if plugged into a single (cannot plug anything else into) receptacle. Many localities lag by a couple code cycles or do not adopt the whole code. Check with the AHJ.
The AHJ where i live required freezer / fridges in garages to be GFCI'd for almost a decade now, however just recently they finally adopted that the GDO be GFCI'd.

Sometimes refrigerators dont like to be moved, something likely broke, came loose, in the transport, i like the idea that the defroster heater is the culprit. Just for good measure, id still replace the GFCI if its a older GFI, some of the old ones were a little touchy.
cowboyjosh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 08:23 PM   #18
oldtractors
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Iowa
Posts: 199
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

I would never plug a fridge into a GFCI outlet in the garage, unless it only held beer I didn't care about. They nuisance trip too much and finding out your fridge with a load of meat in it quit working a week before because of a nuisance trip would not be fun.
oldtractors is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 08:43 PM   #19
ddawg16
Senior Member
 
ddawg16's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: S. California
Posts: 12,305
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

I believe the NEC code says that a refrigerator does NOT have to be on a GFCI.

I also 'understand' the prefered practice to be that a fridge is on it's own cricuit so that something else does not trip the breaker and cause all the food in the fridge to go bad.

So in summary....nothing stops you from putting a fridge on a GFCI....but the NEC does not require it either.

Personally....I would prefer to have my fridge on it's own non GFCI circuit.
__________________
John

"The dream is free but the hustle is sold separately."

In Progress...2-Story Addition link
2-Story Garage Complete My Garage Build Link
Home for.....
84 CJ7 - With a 'few' modifications.. My Jeep Build Link
And my wife's art Studio...
and 3 kids with more energy than we have...
ddawg16 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2011, 09:00 PM   #20
Norcal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 3,862
Default Re: Fridge tripping GFCI - what can I do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
I believe the NEC code says that a refrigerator does NOT have to be on a GFCI.

I also 'understand' the prefered practice to be that a fridge is on it's own cricuit so that something else does not trip the breaker and cause all the food in the fridge to go bad.

So in summary....nothing stops you from putting a fridge on a GFCI....but the NEC does not require it either.

Personally....I would prefer to have my fridge on it's own non GFCI circuit.
That depends where the fridge is, in a commercial kitchen there are NO exceptions to the requirements that all 120V 15 & 20A cord & plug connected circuits be GFCI protected. In posting NEC art. below there are few exceptions to GFCI requirements....

Here is a copy & paste from the 2008 NEC (CA adopted it Jan 1st 2011).

210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for
Personnel.
FPN: See 215.9 for ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection
for personnel on feeders.
(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and
20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in
(1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter
protection for personnel.
(1) Bathrooms
(2) Garages, and also accessory buildings that have a floor
located at or below grade level not intended as habitable
rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas,
and areas of similar use
(3) Outdoors
Exception to (3): Receptacles that are not readily accessible
and are supplied by a dedicated branch circuit for
electric snow-melting or deicing equipment shall be permittedto be installed in accordance with 426.28.
(4) Crawl spaces — at or below grade level
(5) Unfinished basements — for purposes of this section,
unfinished basements are defined as portions or areas of
the basement not intended as habitable rooms and limited
to storage areas, work areas, and the like
Exception to (5): A receptacle supplying only a permanently
installed fire alarm or burglar alarm system shall
not be required to have ground-fault circuit-interrupter
protection.
FPN: See 760.41(B) and 760.121(B) for power supply
requirements for fire alarm systems.
Receptacles installed under the exception to
210.8(A)(5) shall not be considered as meeting the
requirements of 210.52(G).
(6) Kitchens — where the receptacles are installed to serve
the countertop surfaces
(7) Laundry, utility, and wet bar sinks — where the receptacles
are installed within 1.8 m (6 ft) of the outside
edge of the sink
(8) Boathouses

(B) Other Than Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, singlephase,
15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations
specified in (1) through (5) shall have ground-fault
circuit-interrupter protection for personnel:
(1) Bathrooms
(2) Kitchens
(3) Rooftops
(4) Outdoors
Norcal is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:43 AM.