Wondering how to stop a refrigerator from tripping a GFCI outlet? Then this guide is for you!
When you realize you have an electrical issue and that it’s preventing your refrigerator from cooling, you need to know how to fix it.
When you discover that the GFCI outlet is tripping, you might need to figure out the cause quickly.
Knowing how to stop a refrigerator from tripping a GFCI outlet might help you restore proper operation and save all the food inside it from perishing.
So, read on to understand what’s happening, how to fix it, and how to prevent it from recurring.
When your refrigerator keeps tripping GFCI breakers, something is going on that needs an urgent fix.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters(GFCIs) can be sensitive, but they are designed that way with your safety in mind.
Without them, the risk of electrocution skyrockets, particularly in damp locations.
To stop a refrigerator from tripping a GFCI outlet, ensure that the cord is dry and that the fridge is not sitting in a puddle of condensation or melting ice cubes.
Wet electrical connections cause the majority of blown GFCIs. Never use a surge protector with a refrigerator, as it invites heat buildup and dramatically increases the risk of a fire.
If you’re still tripping the GFCI outlet, you may need to move the refrigerator or call your manufacturer.
Let’s figure out what to do for your issue.
A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI, is an outlet with an added safety mechanism.
Instead of only relying on a remote fuse in your fuse box to break the circuit in the event of an overload, there is a local means of sensing a ground fault and breaking the circuit.
There are multiple generations of these interrupters, usually built into the wall sockets themselves, not the fuse box.
They are often found in damp or wet locations as determined by electrical codes.
They’re a common sight in bathrooms, near washing machines, kitchen sinks, and anywhere outside.
In older homes, you may find multiple GFCI outlets on the same circuit.
Old school wiring had a GFCI for many outlets located at the breaker in the fuse box, not at the local outlets themselves.
Typically, there is a standard-looking outlet, often a duplex, with two buttons: One for testing the GFCI and the other for resetting it.
You click them manually with the tip of your finger.
Once you realize a GFCI outlet needs to be reset, you have to figure out what blew it.
It’s a good idea to unplug everything from the outlet itself and then go to the main panel and make sure none of your circuits have blown. Then you can get started.
Step #1: Reset and Inspect your GFCI Outlet
Go to the local outlet that blew. Now, press the button with the ‘reset’ lettering.
You should feel a tactile click, and the button should recess. Now the outlet is reset to operating mode.
Tip: GFCI outlets often have a built-in light to tell you when they are on and working right.
If the buttons don’t operate or the outlet doesn’t reset, you should return to your fuse box and reset that circuit.
Sometimes, fuses that have tripped may not seem like it. A hard off, followed by firmly flipping it back on, will often do the trick.
If your outlet, fuse box, or wall feels warm to the touch, you may have a bigger problem that might require professional help.
Step #2: Check the Cord and Plug
Carefully check the plug and the cord from the refrigerator for damage or wear.
A frayed wire could easily cause a blown GFCI. If you feel any dampness at all, trace where it’s coming from and dry things thoroughly.
Sometimes, when errant ice cubes drop under the fridge, or there’s another kind of spill, moisture will cause the GFCI to blow.
Tip: If the water ran down off the counter or from a cabinet, consider looping the wire for the refrigerator and hanging it on the wall.
This way, water will be less likely to run down it to the outlet causing a fault.
Step #3: Plug Your Fridge Back In
If you have multiple items plugged into the outlet, you can’t determine what may be causing the issue accurately.
So, start with just the refrigerator.
It might not seem like it because modern fridges are so quiet and efficient, but they use up a lot of amps when starting.
That call for power may trip a GFCI breaker, especially when other appliances are also on the same outlet and circuit.
Wait for your fridge to cycle on and off a few times. If it doesn’t trip the circuit, it’s not the cause of your issue.
If your GFCI blows, your refrigerator likely has an electrical issue that needs professional repair.
Note: You should contact your brand’s customer service team, as they may be able to help you troubleshoot the issue.
Step #4: Plug the Other Appliances Back In
One by one, reinsert the plugs for your other appliances into the outlet.
Before moving to the next, make sure the GFCI stays operational while it and the refrigerator are both running at max power.
That might mean waiting for the fridge to cycle and then turning the appliance on.
For instance, if your microwave or stand mixer shares an outlet with your fridge, wait for the refrigerator to cycle on, then turn on the mixer or microwave.
Keep going until you find a combination that blows the GFCI. It’s quite possible you’ll have to find a new plug for that appliance.
Note: In general, it is always best to have a refrigerator on a dedicated circuit to prevent overloads. That’s not always possible, but you have to be careful.
Step #5: Check Your Fridge
If you’re handy and motivated, you may be able to figure out how to repair a minor issue with your refrigerator on your own. Make sure it’s unplugged and look for any loose wiring.
Consider removing the housing and inspecting the internal wiring for loose connections. If you don’t see an issue, move to the defroster.
When the defroster cycles on to thaw any accumulated ice, listen for the GFCI to trip.
If it does within five minutes of the cycle’s start, replace the defrost element. If that doesn’t help, you may have a faulty compressor on your fridge.
Tip: Refer to your manufacturer’s guidance for replacement.
Step #6: Call in the Big Guns
If none of these tricks have helped you pinpoint the issue, it’s possible you have a loose connection in the wall, a circuit issue, or that the GFCI outlet itself has failed.
You’ll likely need an electrician.
It might be tempting to try tricks you find on the internet to help stop a refrigerator from tripping a GFCI outlet.
Remember, every year, nearly 400 Americans are killed in fires of an electrical origin.
Tip: Don’t risk your safety or that of your family by doing something foolish.
In short, don’t:
- Install a DIY snubber to reduce interference.
- Plug a refrigerator into a surge protector or power strip.
- Get in over your head and injure yourself.
Homemade snubber devices and cheap electrical products from the internet are not subject to testing by the Underwriters Laboratory and may pose a significant fire danger and shock hazard when used incorrectly.
Both incorrectly installed snubbers or overloaded surge protectors can heat up and cause a fire.
The bottom line is that if you don’t have experience with repairing electrical systems, call for a pro.
How to Stop a Refrigerator from Tripping a GFCI Outlet: Final Thoughts
We gave you enough information on how to stop a refrigerator from tripping a GCFI outlet, you can also check out if a fridge needs its own outlet.
Hopefully, your fridge is humming along, and you’ve already fixed the issue with your GFCI outlet.
If not, you know what to do, what not to do, and when to call for a pro.
As a temporary fix, consider wheeling your fridge across the room to an outlet that works, this way, you can prevent all your food from spoiling!