Refrigerator trips issues due to GFCI

The problem of a refrigerator shutting down due to GFCI may seem frivolous at first glance. But in fact, it causes a number of side failures in the operation of household appliances, so it is important to solve the source of problems in time. And there are several reasons for the GFCI to turn off the refrigerator, you need to clearly determine which one applies to your case.

What is GFCI and what is the essence of its work?

GFCI is a circuit breaker that is used in that part of the apartment or house where water is actively used (bathroom, kitchen). Its main task is to protect users from the consequences of a short circuit or any other power failure. But keep in mind that GFCI is not the same as a switch or a fuse. These devices have a fundamentally different function: to protect the entire house, and not just the user, from a possible fire that would result from an accident with electricity in the room. The fuse, in fact, takes all the load from the failure and burns out.


In addition, the circuit breaker is included in the outlet device, unlike the circuit breaker and fuse. When you connect any device to the electricity network through a socket, whether it is a washing machine, refrigerator or hair dryer, the interrupter monitors the amount of energy and that it goes evenly. So, for example, if a household item gets wet, the GFCI will detect intermittent current flow and turn off the entire energy flow, which, in turn, prevents possible serious consequences.

Things to remember

Before carrying out any manipulations with the equipment and the electricity network, you need to know the main points of the interaction of the refrigerator with the sockets of the circuit breaker.

First of all, it is worth noting that refrigerators and GFCI sockets are often incompatible. Therefore, initially, immediately when planning a room, you can safely replace the outlet with an ordinary one.

If the refrigerator is still connected to an outlet with a circuit breaker, this is not critical. However, if you used it for a long time, and then there were failures, you do not need to change it, since this is a signal of some kind of problem in the system, and not at all a contradiction between technology and the outlet.

refrigerators and GFCI sockets

Why does the refrigerator turn off due to GFCI?

The main reasons why the refrigerator is disconnected from the outlet with a circuit breaker include:

  • Incorrect shutdown;
  • Malfunctions in the operation of the ice generator;
  • Ground fault;
  • Overload;
  • Short circuit;
  • Electricity leakage;
  • Bond and grounding.

Before buying a new refrigerator, carefully check the old one for one of the above causes of failure. Moreover, each of the reasons has distinctive features by which it can be recognized among the others.

Wrong shutdown

Inductive loads are quite common among vapor compression refrigerators. It turns out that when there is no load on the network, electromagnetic interference can occur. It is this interference that disables the GFCI outlet.

Wrong shutdown

One possible solution is to connect an additional device to the outlet, a damper. It does not deal with breaker failure thoroughly, but it can reduce the frequency of refrigerator shutdowns. If you decide to install an additional part on your outlet, remember that the damper must be installed between the refrigerator and the breaker.

If this option does not suit you, you can completely replace the system with a new one. To do this, you need to replace the switches on the GFCI and on the box. Moreover, if it is not important for you to have a circuit breaker on your outlet, you can find an alternative among outlets without this system.

Malfunctions in the generator or heater

This reason mainly concerns only modern refrigerators, since the old ones are not equipped with ice generation technology. Since turning on the feature generates an uneven power flow, the GFCI system may see this as a threat. The best solution is to replace the outlet with a regular one. If you need a circuit breaker system indoors, then you need to turn off the ice generation system. Otherwise, the problems will continue.

There is also a chance that the problem is a faulty alternator. This happens even on newly purchased refrigerators. If this is your case, contact the store to exchange the old generator for a new one under warranty.

Malfunctions in the generator or heater

The heater could also be the cause. As a rule, it starts to work too hard, which causes an overload on the electrical circuit, which the GFCI considers dangerous. Pay attention to the noise and temperature around the refrigerator and, if instability is found, check the heater.

Ground fault

Faulty connecting wires can cause the network to close in the wrong place, for example, through conductors. As a result, the refrigerator is unstable, which is why the breaker sees the problem and tries to fix it.

If there is a ground fault, the refrigerator will be permanently switched off in order to keep the room safe. In this case, unlike the previous ones, replacing the outlet with a regular one will not only not solve the problem, but may also lead to irreversible consequences. The only true option is to find failures inside the refrigerator itself and fix them.


The most common reason for a refrigerator shutdown. Overloading the electrical network means that its actual performance is much less than that required for the operation of all household appliances.

Revealing that the reason lies precisely in the overloaded network is quite simple: turn off all appliances except the refrigerator. If the device continues to turn off, look for another reason for this phenomenon.

Short circuit

Short circuit

When two wires within the same circuit touch each other, a short circuit occurs. This, in turn, causes current surges in the circuit, and this is followed by the shutdown of both or one of the devices. If the short circuit happened at the moment when you tried to connect the refrigerator to the network, turn it off and try connecting another appliance. If a similar problem does not arise with it, then a short circuit has occurred inside the refrigerator itself. Then you have to look at the internal wiring of the device and look for the problem there.

If the second device, like the refrigerator, does not work, then the problems are related to an accident on the electricity circuit behind the outlet. Turn off the electricity in the room completely and disassemble the outlet. The root of the problem may lie in the wiring inside the wall or in the contacts inside the outlet.

Electricity leak

That’s what a breaker socket is for – detecting leaks and preventing their consequences. Current leakage can be caused by various phenomena, household and mechanical. For example, water ingress or were in the network, faulty or frayed wires can cause a problem and, as a result, turn off the devices. In this case, you need to do the wiring, it is advisable to replace the damaged wires with new ones.



If you installed the GFCI yourself, you may have forgotten to remove the ground jumper on the generator, causing the device to not perform its function correctly.

It is not always necessary to remove the jumper. If the wire will be used for non-domestic purposes, the jumper will need to be installed back.