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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Pittsburgh
    Posts
    181

    Domestic Frige Tripping GFI...Comments Please

    The story.. Family member calls me complaining that the fridge was tripping the GFI, every few days. So, I advised them it was either the fridge causing the issue or the GFI. They had the GFI replaced.. it continued to happen with the new GFI. They decide on a new fridge, asked if I wanted it ? Sure. there it sits in my garage. So, I began troubleshooting, I megged compressor, all good. Next I checked defrost heater, ohms out ok, dont really see any issues in the evap section. But I leave heaters disconnected, this is the first step I want to try to see if it trips with the heater disconnected. Its a high end fancy fridge so I want to save it, if I can find it the issue. So my questions are you domestic refgeration guy/girls, how do you handle these calls ? What is the most common cause ? Where should I look first ? There are tons of things, ice maker, defrost timer/heaters/several solenoids etc.. I dont do any domestic calls...One side note they have a newer house and it was wired with a GFI at the fridge outlet, apparently its required code here....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Tallahassee, FL
    Posts
    6,048
    Refrigerators aren't supposed to be plugged in to GFCIs.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    2,066

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    4,441
    I agree, ditch the GFCI.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Pittsburgh
    Posts
    181
    I agree with you too.. But seems like all newer construction have them on the fridges.. That being said, yea I can not use a GFI, but im treating this as a science experiment to exercise and challenge my troubleshooting skills. Believe me I fully understand the GFI and how it works. Im sure this has happened in a residential setting with some of the guys here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    2,066
    While I don't do resi.

    I see it happen in supermarkets where they plug self contained cases into GFCI outlets.

    Sooner or later, the GFCI trips.

    It has to do with slight current leakage from the motor windings, through the oil, and into ground.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Southeastern Pa
    Posts
    18,589
    The code used to allow for "dedicated" outlets for refrigerators and freezers. That seems to have gone away, as there is no section I have found that allows non-GFCI outlets in areas where these appliances are used.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Warren, OH
    Posts
    14
    Fridge can't be plugged into GFI, either compressor or defrost heaters causing the trip. More than likely heaters. See it all the time

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    787
    Manufacturers will say refrigerators shouldn't plug into GFCIs. But, yes, new construction still installs them.

    I always consider such service calls as nuisance calls after confirming there's no real problems.

    With electrical wiring, thermostat, motor, defrost heater, DTFD stat - all cooled to box temp, any of that can pick up some moisture from condensation when the door is opened.

    I've had to thoroughly troubleshoot a few though. First, verify current flow through the ground wire going to the outlet with an amp clamp. If there is, it's likely in the milliamp range. Then, unplug the fridge & couple your ohmeter between ground and line input of the fridge. You'll probably get a reading in the kilo- or megaohm range. Then - start disconnecting fridge components until the ohmeter reading displays infinity (or OL). Whatever you j-u-s-t disconnected is where the leakage to ground is at.

    Process of elimination.

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