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xpen

@rr.com

The GFI for the refrigerator tripped

The GFI for the refrigerator tripped. It is confirmed that it is caused by the refrigerator. Unplugged the refrigerator, GFI was fine. Switch the refrigerator cooling to off, GFI was fine too and the refrigerator light is on. Switch the refrigerator cooling to on, GFI tripped immediately. Keep refrigerator on and turn the GFI on, and it tripped again straight away.
Do you know what the problem the refrigerator has? How can I fix the problem?
Thanks a lot.



Coma
Thanks Steve
Premium
join:2001-12-30
NirvanaLand

said by xpen :

Do you know what the problem the refrigerator has? How can I fix the problem?


Sounds like the compressor is shot.

Call for service or replace the refrigerator.

--
July is National Hot Dog Month

harald

join:2010-10-22
Columbus, OH
kudos:2
reply to xpen

Please clarify where the GFI is. Is it of the outlet or is it part of a breaker in the electrical panel?

If it is in the electrical panel, then it is not possible, so far as I know, to tell the difference between a ground fault trip and an overload trip.

Use a good-quality 3-wire extension cord to connect the refrigerator to another circuit without a GFCI and let us know what happens.



54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL
reply to xpen

said by xpen :

Do you know what the problem the refrigerator has? How can I fix the problem?
Thanks a lot.

Do you own a volt ohm meter?


tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5

Fridges shouldnt be on a GFI.. Theres a very remote chance of a water grounded fault, and if the gfi trips when someone isnt around, the contents of the fridge go bad..

Duno if a sparky will agree with me, but this is what I`ve been taught..

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8
reply to xpen

If the refrigerator is located in a standard residential kitchen, then GFCI is -not- required for the refrig by the Code. It may, however, be required by your local Code enforcement agency.

Good information about the various issues here:

»www.esgroundingsolutions.com/blo···igerator
--
Many believe, but few will question...I decline to be blind.



nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting

1 recommendation

reply to xpen

Most of the time, the GFCI is simply doing what it is supposed to: shutting off in the case of a ground fault. Check that the fan motor is clean. They usually get loaded up with crap (pet hair, dust bunnies, spider webs). This can cause the the GFCI to trip. It only takes 4-6 mA of leakage current to set off a GFCI.

We've been installing GFCIs 100% in commercial kitchens for years now. The theory of "nuisance tripping" is, for the most part, bunk. It's nearly always the appliance.
You can try replacing the GFCI receptacle with a new if you are so inclined.

By bypassing the GFCI with a standard receptacle on an appliance with a known possible defect, you could be risking damage or even injury.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.


TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

1 edit

Ice maker, fan, and compressor are the main areas to check. You'll need an ohmmeter. Unplug each component and check for any resistance to ground (with the refrigerator unplugged of course).

Ohm check is not a 100% definitive test, but it will work more often than not.

said by nunya:

We've been installing GFCIs 100% in commercial kitchens for years now.

Which is a very good thing indeed. Commercial kitchen appliances have it pretty rough. Ground prongs are much more likely to get broken off, water and moisture is more likely to get into places it shouldn't, etc.

Many years ago I used to work in a restaurant, and actually got zapped by one of the food warmers (no GFCIs). The ground prong had broken off, and moisture had saturated the insulation between the bottom cover and heating element connections, creating a path for electricity to the chassis.

lutful
... of ideas
Premium
join:2005-06-16
Ottawa, ON
kudos:1
reply to xpen

said by xpen :

Keep refrigerator on and turn the GFI on, and it tripped again straight away.

The capacitance between real ground and the fluid-filled compressor/coil may be allowing just enough stray current to flow to trip the GFCI ... specially when humidity is also high. You could pull out the fridge a bit and place it on rigid foam.

A typical residential GFCI trips at 5mA imbalance which is not high enough for some appliances. I do not know the NEC rules for using GFCIs with trip current adjustment inside homes. If they are allowed, 10mA setting should be fine unless you are in the tropics.


54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL
reply to TheMG

said by TheMG:

Ice maker, fan, and compressor are the main areas to check. You'll need an ohmmeter. Unplug each component and check for any resistance to ground (with the refrigerator unplugged of course).

Ohm check is not a 100% definitive test, but it will work more often than not.

The first this I would check is the mullion heaters, they are known for shorting to ground and many times are easy to test, if the fridge has an energy saver switch. Open the fridge, find the energy saver switch and flip it to save and if the GFCI stops tripping one or more of the heaters is pooched.

Now comes decision time, if the heaters are left off (energy save on) then the cabinet may dew up around the door gaskets which in time will cause rusting and the formation of algae.

Or replace the heaters, which is a puppy mother of a job requiring the removal without cracking of the fridges inner liner to get to the heaters, followed by peeling them out and sticking the new ones in place.

Oh yea BTW on some models usually side by sides, they can be found in the doors as well.

Personally if turning the energy saver on cleared the problem I would go shopping for a new fridge.


54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL
reply to lutful

said by lutful:

The capacitance between real ground and the fluid-filled compressor/coil may be allowing just enough stray current to flow to trip the GFCI ... specially when humidity is also high.



There is no way is that going to happen.

You could pull out the fridge a bit and place it on rigid foam.

And what is that supposed to do???

Truthfully Lutful, based on those two comments it is quite obvious you have no clue about what you are posting.

Seriously now, do you really believe the windings of a motor which are wrapped around a grounded steel frame or that putting the grounded cabinet of an appliance up on a sheet of foam is going to reduce some kind of un-known capacitance and stop a GFI from tripping???

That ludicrous!

What the appliance has is a high resistance short from hot to the grounded frame somewhere and it needs to be located using an ohm meter.


54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL
reply to nunya

said by nunya:

We've been installing GFCIs 100% in commercial kitchens for years now. The theory of "nuisance tripping" is, for the most part, bunk. It's nearly always the appliance.

Nuisance tripping is a symptom of an underlying problem, I problem that must be solved before it gets worse.

And yes the majority of the time it is the connected device causing the problem not the GFCI which gets blamed or by-passed.

Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19
reply to tp0d

said by tp0d:

Fridges shouldnt be on a GFI.. Theres a very remote chance of a water grounded fault, and if the gfi trips when someone isnt around, the contents of the fridge go bad..

Duno if a sparky will agree with me, but this is what I`ve been taught..

-j

If I may ask, what "water" do you suppose could have done this??? Where is water in contact with electrical equipment?
If a heater element, or any other part of the refer, then there would obviously be a problem with the refer, and the water would not be the actual problem.

I'd be interested as to who taught you this. IMO this is the kind of answer someone gives when they really have no idea what they are talking about and just want to sound like they do. Not you, but whoever you heard this from.


54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL

1 edit

said by Speedy Petey:

If I may ask, what "water" do you suppose could have done this??? Where is water in contact with electrical equipment?

It collects on the inside edge of the cabinet where the door gasket meets the cabinet and sometimes within the doors and it is the primary reason mullion heaters take a crap.

It is also common to find wet electrical switches in the door boxes of ice and water dispensers.

Water can also be found in direct contact with electrical within the defrost heater (cube release) of ice makers, those heaters are supposed to be “sealed” but that seal is far from perfect.

And any of the above can easily shunt enough current to the grounded shell to trip a GFCI.

Other less likely suspects are thermostats, defrost timers, evaporator and condenser fans or a cracked or rusted out defrost heater in the evaporator coil.

I'd be interested as to who taught you this. IMO this is the kind of answer someone gives when they really have no idea what they are talking about and just want to sound like they do. Not you, but whoever you heard this from.


Actually it more correct than not, allow me to explain.

Mullion heaters are a common cause if this type of fault, the reason how they are made and how they are applied.

The heaters (the cheap and common ones) are really not much more than a resistive strip sandwiched between two plastic sheets that insulate it from the cabinet and it is held in place with a double sided adhesive.

These strips are applied at the factory and due to speed of assembly and the surface they are applied to it is common for them to peel back a little here and there and where they do this, two things happen.

The heater lacking a cabinet gets hotter than it should and becomes brittle damaging the insulation and the cabinet collects condensation where the heater is no longer in contact with it and eventually the moisture and the heater meet causing a high resistance short to ground.

And if the fridge is on a GFCI it trips as it should.



BlueMist

join:2011-01-24
Cookeville, TN
reply to xpen

Most people here seem bent on pinning the problem on refrigerator when it's entirely possible for the GFI breaker itself to become partially faulty. I know, I've had GFI as well as standard breakers go bad with some of them tripping at too low a current. Replaced them with new breakers of the same rating and type and the problem was gone. True, the odds are the refrigerator is at fault but if the problem is in the breaker having that replaced is much cheaper than replacing a refrigerator

If you have another outlet with a GFI try plugging your refrigerator into that outlet and see what happens. If it takes a grounded 3-wire extension cord to do so then fine. If the other breaker trips like the first one then the refrigerator is the culprit and it's time to either have it repaired by someone qualified or replaced. If on the other hand the alternate GFI breaker does not trip then it's time to have an electrician replace the breaker the refrigerator normally uses.


Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19
reply to 54067323

said by 54067323:

said by Speedy Petey:

If I may ask, what "water" do you suppose could have done this??? Where is water in contact with electrical equipment?

It collects on the inside edge of the cabinet where the door gasket meets the cabinet and sometimes within the doors and it is the primary reason mullion heaters take a crap.

It is also common to find wet electrical switches in the door boxes of ice and water dispensers.

Water can also be found in direct contact with electrical within the defrost heater (cube release) of ice makers, those heaters are supposed to be “sealed” but that seal is far from perfect.

And any of the above can easily shunt enough current to the grounded shell to trip a GFCI.

Other less likely suspects are thermostats, defrost timers, evaporator and condenser fans or a cracked or rusted out defrost heater in the evaporator coil.

I'd be interested as to who taught you this. IMO this is the kind of answer someone gives when they really have no idea what they are talking about and just want to sound like they do. Not you, but whoever you heard this from.


Actually it more correct than not, allow me to explain.

Mullion heaters are a common cause if this type of fault, the reason how they are made and how they are applied.

The heaters (the cheap and common ones) are really not much more than a resistive strip sandwiched between two plastic sheets that insulate it from the cabinet and it is held in place with a double sided adhesive.

These strips are applied at the factory and due to speed of assembly and the surface they are applied to it is common for them to peel back a little here and there and where they do this, two things happen.

The heater lacking a cabinet gets hotter than it should and becomes brittle damaging the insulation and the cabinet collects condensation where the heater is no longer in contact with it and eventually the moisture and the heater meet causing a high resistance short to ground.

And if the fridge is on a GFCI it trips as it should.

My point is, it's not the water that is at fault, it is faulty equipment. Folks think just because there is water in the vicinity it will be a problem.
If this were true then why can a pool pump motor be in direct weather and not trip?

Like has been stated, ALL 15 & 20A-120V commercial kitchen receptacles must be GFI protected. And there is a LOT more water around in that setting.
Tripping is actually pretty rare.


54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL

said by Speedy Petey:

Like has been stated, ALL 15 & 20A-120V commercial kitchen receptacles must be GFI protected. And there is a LOT more water around in that setting.
Tripping is actually pretty rare.

Might I ask where is that requirement in the code?

550.13(C) only requires a grounded outlet for cord connected appliances.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8

2 recommendations

NEC 210.8(B)(2) covers all non-residential kitchens.



54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL

said by John Galt:

NEC 210.8(B)(2) covers all non-residential kitchens.

Cool, I see now other than dwelling units.

I'll look into it further just as soon as I am done checking my compressors for excessive capacitance.

lutful
... of ideas
Premium
join:2005-06-16
Ottawa, ON
kudos:1
reply to 54067323

said by 54067323:

said by lutful:

The capacitance between real ground and the fluid-filled compressor/coil may be allowing just enough stray current to flow to trip the GFCI ... specially when humidity is also high.

There is no way is that going to happen ... Seriously now, do you really believe ...

Whenever the compressor starts/stops, significant radio frequency noise is generated and conducted to the compressor body and coil. That causes some current to flow through stray capacitance from those surfaces to real ground.

During humid summers or in a moist environment, an electrically noisy compressor can push the (inevitable) leakage current above the threshold of a residential GFCI.

said by 54067323:

What the appliance has is a high resistance short from hot to the grounded frame somewhere and it needs to be located using an ohm meter.

This is the fall-back explanation for every single GFCI trips from people who can't fathom any other failure mechanism.


54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL

said by lutful:

Whenever the compressor starts/stops, significant radio frequency noise is generated and conducted to the compressor body and coil.

What coil and where is it?

During humid summers or in a moist environment, an electrically noisy compressor can push the (inevitable) leakage current above the threshold of a residential GFCI.

Bull crap.

Explain how moisture effects the compressor?

This is the fall-back explanation for every single GFCI trips from people who can't fathom any other failure mechanism.

Actually is it based on fact not assumption.

lutful
... of ideas
Premium
join:2005-06-16
Ottawa, ON
kudos:1

1 edit

said by 54067323:

said by lutful:

During humid summers or in a moist environment, an electrically noisy compressor can push the (inevitable) leakage current above the threshold of a residential GFCI.

Bull crap.

Just wanted to keep that exchange for posterity. I will not respond to your ignorant rants any more.

*** Anyone else could Google "stray capacitance" together with GFCI, GFI or RCD to find technical articles written by EEs and regulatory bodies. The condenser coil contribue a lot to the overall value of stray capacitance. Stray capacitance is also a "high resistance path" to ground ... look up the exact formula in a physics text.

A relevant discussion from UK IET forum: »www.theiet.org/forums/forum/mess···id=34284


54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL

said by lutful:

The condenser coil contribue a lot to the overall value of stray capacitance.

A grounded, flat steel coil, with freon in it, contributes a lot to the overall value of stray capacitance which plays a part in tripping GFCI's...

Wow!! I gotta send that one to Mike Holt.

Stray capacitance is also a "high resistance path" to ground ...

Ok if you say so...


grobinette
Southeast of disorder
Premium,Mod
join:2001-01-27
Springfield, VA
kudos:2

1 recommendation

reply to xpen

Some of you guys spend an awful lot of time arguing how much you know and waste an equal amount of time going off topic and not answering questions. Take a break.


Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19

said by grobinette:

Some of you guys spend an awful lot of time arguing how much you know...

I disagree. I like discussions like this. It helps clear up misconceptions and misinformation which can sometimes be a problem on boards like this.

said by grobinette:

........and waste an equal amount of time going off topic and not answering questions.

Here I am with you. Especially considering the exorbitant salaries some of these guys are getting.


grobinette
Southeast of disorder
Premium,Mod
join:2001-01-27
Springfield, VA
kudos:2

1 recommendation

Disagree if you like, but when it becomes a distraction and the complaint button gets pushed it needs to be reigned in.

Now back to your regular scheduled programming.



tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5

1 edit
reply to Speedy Petey

said by Speedy Petey:

said by tp0d:

Fridges shouldnt be on a GFI.. Theres a very remote chance of a water grounded fault, and if the gfi trips when someone isnt around, the contents of the fridge go bad..

Duno if a sparky will agree with me, but this is what I`ve been taught..

-j

If I may ask, what "water" do you suppose could have done this??? Where is water in contact with electrical equipment?
If a heater element, or any other part of the refer, then there would obviously be a problem with the refer, and the water would not be the actual problem.

I'd be interested as to who taught you this. IMO this is the kind of answer someone gives when they really have no idea what they are talking about and just want to sound like they do. Not you, but whoever you heard this from.

You may ask... but I`m not jumping into this tennis match, just elaborating my side. Just a plumber sharing my opinion

Water can contact a ckt at a solenoid connection, possible leakage from freezer if the coils freeze over, door heaters as mentioned above.. but this was not the basis of my point. I meant the chance of water causing a partial short to ground or chassis is pretty damn rare in a ressy setting. Much more of a chance for the windings in the compressor to overheat and cause the failure of the insulation, which I have seen in fridges and a few washing machines. Mostly older equipment of course. Hell, my tightwad nephew has a beer fridge that when he moved into his new house, it tripped the GFI immediately. His solution? Change the plug to a standard lol.. House hasnt burned down yet heh.. When I remodeled my kitchen, I put 20a GFIs on the left and right of the sink, but not for the fridge..

As for who taught me this.. my dad.. Who once lost a full freezer of food because a stupid GFI.. Best they can remember, a lightening storm tripped it, they didnt check it for a while, and you can guess the rest.. GFI didnt trip after resetting it tho, until it was changed out..

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)

walta

join:2001-05-22
Saint Louis, MO
kudos:2

1 recommendation

reply to xpen

Make sure no one will get an electrical shock from this unit.

First you need to inspect the ground plug on the cord and be certain it is present and in good condition. Now unplug the refrigerator and measure with an ohm meter from the ground pin of the plug to the metal parts of the refrigerator your reading should be under 5 ohm.

Next be certain the outlet has a good ground. With a AC volt meter measure from hot to ground you should get almost the same reading as you get from hot to neutral. If that reading is good measure from ground to neutral your reading should be less than 2 volts.

Only if you can pass both tests is it safe to operate the unit without GFI protection.

If I were looking for a ground fault in a frost free refrigerator the first place I would look is at the defrost heaters as they are connected to power and are often wet.

Walta


lutful
... of ideas
Premium
join:2005-06-16
Ottawa, ON
kudos:1
reply to Speedy Petey

said by Speedy Petey:

I like discussions like this. It helps clear up misconceptions and misinformation which can sometimes be a problem on boards like this.

Thanks.

Earlier, I linked to an IET forum thread about nuisance tripping caused by radio frequency noise from the compressor.

Here is a relevant discussion from Mike Holt's forum: »forums.mikeholt.com/showthread.php?t=92263

"When the motor runs, the GFCI will trip almost instantly. The problem is not line frequency leakage current for we measure this at 2mA. We believe the problem is RFI or harmonic currents

Mentions latest UL standard requires GFCI to ignore higher frequency leakage current. Leviton apparently sells them already. That may solve OP's problem.


54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL

1 edit

said by lutful:

Here is a relevant discussion from Mike Holt's forum: »forums.mikeholt.com/showthread.php?t=92263

Revelant is comparing a "Our company makes a commercial/industrial bench top polisher/grinder which uses a water supply, so our customers want to use a GFCI. It runs on 115VAC single phase which powers a motor speed controller (frequency drive), which drives a 1hp 3 phase 230VAC motor. When the motor runs, the GFCI will trip almost instantly." to a residential refrigerator?

You have to be kidding.