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Why Is My Refrigerator Tripping The GFCI? (Explained)

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Ideally, operating a refrigerator through a Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI) outlet is not advisable.

The reason is that a GFCI outlet is used to operate appliances in areas with a high chance of being exposed to water.

A refrigerator requires a particular electrical outlet, but some refrigerators repeatedly trip a GFCI outlet. What is the reason behind this occurrence?

Your refrigerator may trip the GFCI outlet because refrigerators generally have a few inductive loads. When these are switched off, they produce electromagnetic interference that results in temporary failure of power. Inductive loads are a part of any machine that involves motion and can be found in refrigerators.

Whirlpool Refrigerator Tripping GFCI?

Your Whirlpool refrigerator might be tripping the GFCI outlet due to reasons ranging from a simple fan issue to a faulty compressor, among others.

It is also important to note that Whirlpool refrigerators require a standard electrical outlet to function correctly. If this electrical outlet is replaced unnecessarily with a GFCI outlet, there are bound to be tripping issues.

In general, it is safe to assume that the tripping of your Whirlpool refrigerator might be a result of not using a standard electrical outlet for its operation.

On the other hand, the tripping of your refrigerator might result from internal faults.

These internal faults could be;

#1. A Faulty Fan

Your Whirlpool refrigerator might either be a direct cool or No-frost refrigerator. If your refrigerator is a No-frost refrigerator, then a fan issue could cause the tripping.

The reason is that the fan is designed to circulate the cold air in the fridge. The electrical wiring of the fan could have developed a leak.

But in more straightforward cases, the fan could develop a fault simply because it has been clogged with dirt leaned to ease any fault.

#2. A Faulty Defrost Heater

The defrost heater results in the lack of ice-formation in No-frost refrigerators.

When the refrigerator trips, this could mean that the defrost heater has developed a leak of electrical current.

To confirm that the defrost heater is the fault’s origin, it should be unplugged from the circuit board before the refrigerator is restarted.

If the refrigerator does not trip, the fault lies within the defrost heater, and you should replace it.

#3. A Faulty Compressor

The compressor, of course, is more or less the very essence of a refrigerator, but this does not make it any less prone to earth leaks.

You should check the connections of the compressor when your refrigerator trips.

To test this, disconnect the compressor and start the appliance without it.

If it works perfectly, you can be sure that your refrigerator’s compressor is faulty.

Why Does My Refrigerator Keep Tripping the Breaker?

Your refrigerator keeps tripping the GFCI breaker either because of an overload in the circuit, hazardous earth leaks, or a short circuit.

The breaker is designed to prevent house fires, cutting off power when there is an electrical fault. However, there is a common cause of refrigerators tripping a breaker simply because they need a lot of energy to get going, so they stumble when they shouldn’t.

This reaction is known as Nuisance tripping. However, this type of tripping is not alarming, as it can be easily fixed by installing snubbers devices.

Which drastically reduces the degree of electromagnetic interference produced in the refrigerator.

However, the other causes for a refrigerator tripping its breaker are not as harmless.

#1. Overload

Overload is the most common cause of tripping in refrigerators. This is because many appliances are plugged into the same circuit as the refrigerator.

Inevitably, the circuit would be unable to deliver the amount of power required by the refrigerator, leading to it tripping the breaker.

#2. Earth Leaks

When electricity starts to escape its designed route and instead follows a different path to the ground, this leads to the refrigerator tripping.

These leaks can be caused by melting ice getting into parts of the appliance that are supposed to be dry.

Other faults can also cause it in the refrigerator or broken wiring.

When this happens, electric routes deviate from their original path and form shortcuts, which could be through parts of the refrigerator cutting exposed to the touch, causing electric shocks.

The refrigerator trips the breaker to cut off power and prevent this. However, disconnecting the fridge from the breaker might cause it to stop tripping, but this does not fix the problem.

A skilled technician should carry out tests on the refrigerator to locate the leak’s origin.

#3. Short Circuit

When two wires touch inside the refrigerator or in the electrical outlet, a sudden spike of electrical current causes the breaker to trip.

The short circuit could lie within the refrigerator, and to test this, you should plug it into another outlet. If it still trips, the fault is confirmed.

On the other hand, the short circuit could also lie in the wiring of the electrical outlet, the breaker box itself, or even in the wall.

An electrician should locate the touching wires and fix the circuit to stop the refrigerator from tripping the breaker.

How Do I Stop My Fridge From Tripping The GFCI?

From using a dedicated circuit to meticulously inspecting the refrigerator, there are many ways to stop a refrigerator from tripping the GFCI.

#1. Using a dedicated circuit

Overloading the circuit powering the refrigerator ultimately causes it to trip the GFCI. Therefore, the fridge alone needs to be powered by a circuit.

You should disconnect all other appliances you connected to that circuit, or better still, you should install a dedicated circuit for the refrigerator.

#2. Reset the GFCI outlet

When your fridge trips the GFCI, reset the outlet to see if it is just nuisance tripping or a genuine fault.

If the tripping turns out to be the result of a faulty GFCI, then the outlet should be fixed or, in other cases, replaced entirely.


The repeated tripping of your refrigerator can lead to the food items going bad due to the unstable electrical power of the fridge.

It is highly unpleasant and can be avoided by asking a qualified technician to inspect every part of the refrigerator for any faults you should immediately fix.

However, if your refrigerator is old and needs replacement, repairs might only be a temporary solution until it is replaced.

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