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Fix a Tripping GFCI Outlet for a Freezer or Refrigerator

My freezer lost power, do I have a bad GFCI receptacle? Problems with GFCI Outlets for Freezers and How to Fix Them.

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GFCI Outlet for a Freezer or Refrigerator
Electrical Problem #1: My freezer lost electric power, do I have a bad GFCI receptacle?

Thanks in advance for your help.

This electrical wiring question came from Bill, in Slagle, Missouri.

Electrical Problem #2:

This electrical wiring question came from in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Dave’s Reply:
Thank you for your electrical wiring questions.

Repairing a GFCI Problem for a Freezer or Refrigerator

Problems with Old GFCI Outlets for Freezers and How to Fix Them

  1. GFCI Outlets for Freezers and Refrigerators
    There has been a history of problems where a refrigerator or freezer will trip a GFCI off without warning. For most locations, a freezer or refrigerator does not need to be protected by GFCI unless the location requires.
  2. Electrical Code: In the past the national electrical code allowed an exception to this problem of a tripping GFCI outlet at a freezer or refrigerator, however due to greater reliability of the newer GFCI outlets the following is suggested:
    • If you have an older GFCI that is tripping, then replace it with a new GFCI outlet.
    • GFCI outlets should be tested regularly to ensure normal operation.
  3. Provide GFCI Protection Where Required
    The concern is to make sure that outlets are protected by GFCI where the protection is required.

    • It is best to install the GFCI outlet in a location that is accessible which will allow regular testing.
  4. NOTE: If this is not a dedicated circuit intended for one device only, and the circuit is being shared with other outlets that require GFCI protection then the circuit will need to be evaluated to know where to install the main GFCI outlet, or a separate GFCI outlet should be installed into the locations where required.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “Fix a Tripping GFCI Outlet for a Freezer or Refrigerator”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Thomas,
    Please note that NEC Article 426.28 has reference to ‘fixed outdoor electric deicing and snow melting equipment’.

    With reference to the main article about Tripping GFCI Outlets please note the following update: In the past the National Electrical Code allowed an exception to the problem of a tripping GFCI outlet at a freezer or refrigerator, however GFCI outlets are now required in these areas without exception. If there is a nuisance tripping problem with an older GFCI then the solution would be to replace it with a new GFCI outlet.

    Thank you for your observation!
    I hope this helps,

  2. Thomas G says:

    I have heard from electricians about a readily accessible exception for GFCI protection. 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 permitted to be installed in accordance with 426.28.
    I think the statement is only being read halfway through as it does not state receptacles that are not readily accessible OR are supplied by a dedicated branch circuit…
    Is there another exception in the NEC which allows dedicated circuits or receptacle outlets that are not readily accessible to be installed without ground fault protection?