Why does my refrigerator keep tripping the GFCI?
The main reason a GCI outlet on a refrigerator keeps tripping is due to a short circuit, or because the fridge is defrosting.
Sometimes when you plug in a refrigerator to your GFCI outlet, it might trip. This is a common problem and is very confusing because it can happen to new outlets and old outlets as well.
You might have a GFCI outlet in your home that has been giving you great service for years, and now you get a new refrigerator and plug it into the outlet, and it trips. In this case, the first thing to do is check the refrigerator by connecting it to any other GFCI outlet.
If that’s the case, then check your refrigerator wires. There is a possibility that it is connected to the ground in some way, shorting it and causing the GFCI to trip. Also check for water, or if some part of the wire is exposed.
Any kind of short circuit can be a potential reason for the GFCI to trip.
The users should use their refrigerators on the normal outlets instead of the GFCI outlets. Sometimes, when the refrigerator is defrosting, it may trip the GFCI outlet and leave you flustered, trying to figure out what caused the problem. So, they should use it in normal outlets.
If you have to use it on the GFCI outlet and there is no other option for you, make sure that there are no other appliances connected to the outlet. If there are other appliances when the refrigerator is connected, it will be downstream, causing it to trip automatically.
What can cause a refrigerator to trip the GFCI?
- A short circuit
- Exposed wires touching the ground
- Water accumulation
- Fridge is defrosting
To be clear, GFCI outlets are for protecting your electronics. Their main function is to prevent any kind of sparking or malfunction due to a short circuit. The most common reason your refrigerator keeps tripping the GFCI outlet is that it may be somehow getting shorted.
Look for exposed wires that may be touching the ground or some water accumulation, causing a short circuit.
If there is a shorting, then the GFCI trips save the device from getting damaged in any way. That’s why it is recommended not to use refrigerators on GFCI since they are meant for protection.
In the majority of cases, the refrigerator tripped during defrosting. This happens due to the change in the stream of power flow. Defrosting is important for refrigerators, so it is a little problematic if the GFCI trips every time during defrosting.
This can be corrected by using modern chips or controllers. These GFCI outlets have sensors that cause the circuit to trip if there is any short circuit. There are advanced controller chips available with nothing but an increased delay time or response time. This helps in preventing false tripping that happens with the refrigerators.
Whatever solution you opt for, the best one is not to connect your refrigerator to the GFCI outlets. These are highly inductive devices and can cause a lot of false tripping. There can be instances of a false trip with fluorescent lamps as well, so refrigerators are an obvious reason.
How to stop your refrigerator from tripping the GFCI
One thing is clear by now that whatever the reason is behind the tripping of the GFCI by the refrigerator, it is very problematic and interrupts normal processes of the appliance and any other appliance that is connected to the same outlet.
So, the important thing to know is how to stop your refrigerator from tripping the GFCI.
As it has been mentioned, refrigerators are best if not connected to a GFCI outlet. There is no need for protection for refrigerators by the GFCI if their circuit is completely different or there are no other appliances connected to that circuit. So, just take the following steps to prevent it from tripping the GFCI.
- If the GFCI outlet had been working well with the previous refrigerator, there would be a good chance that it needs to be replaced. There is always the possibility that it has gained some damage with time, or the settings are not compatible with the latest refrigerator models, thereby causing false trips.
- In case the problem persists, it is best to hire an electrician for rewiring the outlet. If the GFCI outlet is made closed, i.e., there are no other devices connected to the same outlet, it can solve the problem. When the refrigerator is on a closed circuit, it does not need protection from the GFCI, so there is a smaller chance of falsely tripping the outlet.
- Anything that is done to prevent this tripping has the main objective of separating the refrigerator from the GFCI. A refrigerator does not need protection from the GFCI, so a little rewiring to connect all the other appliances in your home to the GFCI except the refrigerator can solve the problem.
- Now before you even touch the GFCI outlet, you need to make sure that there is no problem with the refrigerator itself. More often than not, some genuine connection faults cause the refrigerator to trip the GFCI for protection. If these trips occur every several hours, there is a good chance that it is due to the defrost cycle. It can cause the ice to melt, which can short the circuit, causing the GFCI to trip. So, check for that before you replace the outlet or any rewiring.
How Does a GFCI Outlet Work?
As we mentioned, the GFCI outlet is meant to protect your electrical appliances, but do not confuse it with a fuse. A GFCI outlet is completely different from a fuse. A fuse is present in the main supply to cut off the power in case of an anomaly to protect the devices.
The purpose of the GFCI is the same as the fuse, but it works differently. Unlike the fuse, the GFCI is integrated into the outlet itself. Now suppose you have connected a device to that outlet and it gets wet or short due to some reason, the GFCI senses the surge in power and trips the circuit. This does not affect the main supply and just turns off the power from the outlet.
This is the reason refrigerators are not recommended to be connected to the GFCI. These devices are highly inductive and tend to pull high power, thereby falsely alarming the GFCI that a fault has occurred.
Samsung Fridge keeps tripping GFCI.
This problem is very common, as mentioned earlier. Samsung is perhaps the most widely used refrigerator brand along with Whirlpool and Kenmore. This problem also happens in Samsung refrigerators, so if you are facing the same issue, here are the things you can try:
- Try unplugging the refrigerator from the outlet and plugging into other outlets.
- If it works properly with other outlets, then there is no need for any kind of service.
- Plug something else into the outlet that is being tripped, and check if it is receiving power.
- If the GFCI outlet is working properly and the refrigerator is also fine, then you need to connect the fridge to a non-GFCI outlet.
- If the outlet is not receiving power, then it is best to contact an electrician.
Whirlpool Refrigerator trips GFCI outlet.
This problem is very common with Whirlpool refrigerators. Most of the cases of tripping happen with Whirlpool when it is defrosting. Here are the solutions you can apply:
- Try checking how it works on a different outlet.
- Check the outlet’s power connection.
- Whirlpool normally does not work well on the GFCI outlet, so it is recommended to connect it to normal outlets.
Kenmore Refrigerator trips GFCI outlet.
This problem is also very persistent with Kenmore refrigerators. If you own a Kenmore, then there is no doubt that you might have faced the same problem. Thankfully, in the case of Kenmore, the cause of this problem is a single issue: the defrosting.
- The fridge trips the GFCI whenever it is on the defrost cycle.
- There is ice everywhere, which causes the GFCI to sense a fault and trip the circuit.
- It is recommended to use the refrigerator on a non-GFCI outlet since there is no other solution.
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