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  1. #1
    Gary Winfield's Avatar
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    Default ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    New to the forum.

    I have a garage that loses power from time to time. Each time I have to reset my GFCI at the panel. Overhead floresent lights lose power but the garage doors operate fine. All wall receptacles lose power as well. Freezer hooks into a 110 wall outlet and also loses power.

    Anyone know why this might be happening?

    Thanks Gary

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Sounds like the GFCI is doing its job. Find out why you are having a ground fault before someone dies.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Try plugging in your freezer somewhere else and see if the breaker still kicks out.


  4. #4
    Gary Winfield's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    It's the only place the freezer will go in the garage. Why would my garage door work fine but no power any where else? (maybe wired separately)


  5. #5
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Electric motors can cause a false ground fault. That is why refrigerators (and freezers) should not be plugged into a GFCI protected circuit. Your freezer could be tripping the GFCI that is protecting the garage lighting/receptacle circuit.

    What year was your house built?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Normally, the garage door opener recept which is mounted in the ceiling is not GFCI protected because it is considered to be not accessible. In other words its not a receptacle that people would normally use to hook up to an electrical device such as a vacuum.

    It appears that in the 2008 NEC, the exceptions for the garage GFCI receptacles and GFCI in accessory buildings have been removed meaning any outlet in the garage will have to be GFCI protected.

    As far as why your GFCI outlets are tripping is going to take a little troubleshooting. It could be a load issue such as your freezer which should not be plugged into a GFCI outlet or it could simply be a bad GFCI breaker. Most people do not realize that the more a Breaker trips, the weaker it gets and then you start to experience alot of false tripping.

    I suggest that you get a certified electrician out there and check out your garage circuit.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Sounds like the GFCI is doing its job. Find out why you are having a ground fault before someone dies.
    Correct answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    Try plugging in your freezer somewhere else and see if the breaker still kicks out.
    Good for finding out if there is a problem with the freezer, for that matter, for *testing purposes only*, run an extension cord from the garage door opener receptacle and plug the freezer into that non-GFCI protected receptacle - *IF* the GFCI does not trip off any more, you need to replace your freezer.

    *DO* *NOT* leave the testing purposes only extension cord plugged into the garage door opener receptacle with the freezer plugged into it - that is only for testing purposes.

    IF the GFCI still trips, the freezer was not the problem, call an electrical contractor to find the ground fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Winfield View Post
    It's the only place the freezer will go in the garage. Why would my garage door work fine but no power any where else? (maybe wired separately)
    Because until the 2008 NEC only receptacles in a garage which were readily accessible, i.e., 6'8" or less in height, had to be GFCI protected, the 2008 NEC requires GFCI protection for ALL garage receptacle outlets of 120 volt 15 amp or 20 amp.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippe Heller View Post
    Electric motors can cause a false ground fault. That is why refrigerators (and freezers) should not be plugged into a GFCI protected circuit. Your freezer could be tripping the GFCI that is protecting the garage lighting/receptacle circuit.

    Electric motors do not cause a false ground, that is electrician and home inspector lore. Sure, 20 years ago of so they did, but in the last 20 years or so the allowable leakage in appliances has been reduced from a maximum of 50 ma (which would trip a GFCI) to a maximum of 0.5 ma (which will not trip a GFCI). If you have an appliance that trips a GFCI ... REPLACE THAT APPLIANCE.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
    Gary Winfield's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Ricky, well said. That does make sense. Philippe, thx for your input


  9. #9
    Philippe Heller's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Electric motors "can" cause tripping, but yes, usually older motors, or appliances with a short. If this freezer causes tripping you should consider replacing it.

    In my college apartment I had a fridge that would occasionally shock the heck out of people if they touched certain screws on the door.

    Another practical reason that refrigerators and freezers should not be on GFCI-protected circuits is to prevent the loss of food ($$$) if the GFCI is tripped.


  10. #10
    Gary Winfield's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    I see this forum has a wealth of knowledge. Thanks for all the input.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippe Heller View Post
    Electric motors "can" cause tripping,
    Which is not what you said in your previous post and not what I was replying to - I was replying to what you said then:

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippe Heller View Post
    Electric motors can cause a false ground fault.
    Electric motors DO NOT "cause" "false" ground faults, not even older motors which were allowed to have up to 50 ma of leakage ... that IS a REAL honest to goodness "ground fault", nothing false about it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Well defined. Thanks.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    "In my college apartment I had a fridge that would occasionally shock the heck out of people if they touched certain screws on the door.

    Another practical reason that refrigerators and freezers should not be on GFCI-protected circuits is to prevent the loss of food ($$$) if the GFCI is tripped."


    So you think it is better to shock a person than to risk losing some food.
    This is exactly the reason refrigerators and freezers SHOULD be plugged into a GFCI.

    "Good for finding out if there is a problem with the freezer, for that matter, for *testing purposes only*, run an extension cord from the garage door opener receptacle and plug the freezer into that non-GFCI protected receptacle - *IF* the GFCI does not trip off any more, you need to replace your freezer."

    Better yet, use a GFCI extension cord.
    Now if the GFCI on the cord trips you know it's the freezer.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Rick the reason I reflected on that old fridge is because it illustrates that old appliances may need to be replaced. As with all electrical appliances, they need to be replaced at some point. I don't know how old the freezer in the discussion is.

    Refrigerator receptacles (in kitchens) are not GFCI protected. Perhaps they should be as you suggest. That is not for me to decide. They are not typically easily accessible, and, since GFCI's are tripped more frequently than circuit breakers, you can run the risk of loosing a couple hundred dollars worth of food.

    Does anyone have another explanation of why refrigerator receptacles are not GFCI-protected?


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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    "Good for finding out if there is a problem with the freezer, for that matter, for *testing purposes only*, run an extension cord from the garage door opener receptacle and plug the freezer into that non-GFCI protected receptacle - *IF* the GFCI does not trip off any more, you need to replace your freezer."

    Better yet, use a GFCI extension cord.
    Now if the GFCI on the cord trips you know it's the freezer.
    You would not know that if the GFCI protected extension cord is plugged into a GFCI protected receptacle and the GFCI protection for the receptacle trips.

    Plug the freezer into an extension cord off the garage door closer receptacle, and, yeah, as Rick said, use a GFCI protected extension cord as you might find that both GFCIs will trip, meaning you have problems in both the freezer and in the circuit (good idea on that GFCI protected extension cord, Rick).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Winfield View Post
    New to the forum.

    I have a garage that loses power from time to time. Each time I have to reset my GFCI at the panel. Overhead floresent lights lose power but the garage doors operate fine. All wall receptacles lose power as well. Freezer hooks into a 110 wall outlet and also loses power.

    Anyone know why this might be happening?

    Thanks Gary

    Everyone covered it pretty well so far but don't forget the problem may be at an exterior outlet that is on that same garage circuit. Look for leaks around the exterior outlets, extension cords left plugged in and missing or bad weather covers.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

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    Cool Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Jerry, why doesn't he get rid of the GFCI circuit breaker, and install point of
    use GFCI duplex receptacles. And were the GFCI closer to the source
    maybe this end use GFCI would not trip. Also personal I was never a
    big fan the GFCI breaker.

    As alway I look forward to your thoughs and opinion on this very
    important subject.


  18. #18
    Bob Winchester's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    In the dialogue for this question read and understand what Jerry Peck tells you. He is right on this. He understands the GFCI and it's function.
    The idea of GFCI receptacles instead of a GFCI breaker is also excellent advice. A long run of wiring seems to cause false tripping.
    The NEC doesn't care about the value of food lost in a refrigerator or freezer at all. They are more concerned with human life and safety. I tend to agree with them. Safety is what it is all about. The NEC is the safest book I've ever read.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Mattison View Post
    Jerry, why doesn't he get rid of the GFCI circuit breaker, and install point of use GFCI duplex receptacles. And were the GFCI closer to the source maybe this end use GFCI would not trip.
    Robert,

    That would be a good idea except for one little problem ... if the GFCI does not trip as a device and the GFCI breaker was removed, then that would be a very good indication that the problem was with the circuit itself, and that would not be a good thing to leave 'because it no longer trips the GFCI'.

    Whenever a GFCI trips often as he described - 'the problem' - is what needs to be looked for and found, it could be the appliance, or it could be a faulty circuit.

    Also personal I was never a big fan the GFCI breaker.
    Other than price and convenience I've always liked the GFCI breaker.

    First "the price": if you install a GFCI breaker instead of several GFCI devices, then "price" may actually work in favor of the GFCI breaker.

    Second "convenience": if you install a GFCI breaker instead of several GFCI devices, then you have to go to the breaker when you trip a GFCI instead of just going to the device. I've always put a GFCI device on *each* receptacle outlet requiring protection, i.e., our bathroom has two receptacles 6 feet away from each other, one on each end of the lavatory top, and *each one* is a GFCI device; also, in our kitchen *each* receptacle for the countertop is a GFCI device.

    Then there is the issue I brought up at first: if the GFCI is tripping because of a circuit problem, you would not even be aware there was a circuit problem if the GFCI protection was located at each device, where a GFCI breaker would trip on the circuit problem.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 08-16-2010 at 06:12 PM. Reason: fixing a [/quote]
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  20. #20
    Gary Winfield's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Guys,

    thanks for all the knowledge & advice. The freezer is in the middle of the garage. Two GFCI breakers on each side of the freezer along my walls. May move freezer to the end of the line. Replace GFCI with a regular receptacle that I plug my freezer into. Same as the receptacle behind refrig. in my house (no GFCI). Would that eliminate my problem ???


  21. #21
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Winfield View Post
    Guys,

    thanks for all the knowledge & advice. The freezer is in the middle of the garage. Two GFCI breakers on each side of the freezer along my walls. May move freezer to the end of the line. Replace GFCI with a regular receptacle that I plug my freezer into. Same as the receptacle behind refrig. in my house (no GFCI). Would that eliminate my problem ???
    Gary,

    As JP has already said, if there is a fault in your freezer, the GFCI device is likely doing its job and protecting you from injury. A low level ground fault might not trip the circuit breaker in the panel, but will trip off a GFCI device. If it were me, I would try JP's extension cord test first.

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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Winfield View Post
    May move freezer to the end of the line. Replace GFCI with a regular receptacle that I plug my freezer into. Same as the receptacle behind refrig. in my house (no GFCI). Would that eliminate my problem ???
    That may eliminate the GFCI tripping from the freezer as you have removed *required* GFCI protection from the freezer, but the freezer would still be bad, so you would not have eliminated the "problem" (presuming the freezer is the "problem" as you are).

    In addition that would also create a non-compliant condition as that receptacle would no longer be GFCI protected - *as it is required to be*.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
    Gary Winfield's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Thanks, Maybe I should try that first.


  24. #24
    Bob Winchester's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Ahhhhhhhhhh, I see your GFCI breaker is on each side of your tripping problem in the garage. This tells me the GFCI breaker is actually 2 GFCI receptacles. Do you have 2 GFCI receptacles on the same circuit with one protecting the other?
    We're getting into troubleshooting here so the knowledge is much more specialized at this point.
    If you have one GFCI protecting the other GFCI then the answer is simple. Wire them correctly, one way or the other, wire them correctly. There is nothing at all wrong with wiring the receptacles after the GFCI on the LOAD side of the receptacle but don't install a 2nd GFCI on this protected circuit.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Winfield View Post
    New to the forum.

    I have a garage that loses power from time to time. Each time I have to reset my GFCI at the panel. Anyone know why this might be happening?

    Thanks Gary
    (edited for brevity...)

    An 'intermittent' problem eh? I ran into the same situation a couple of years ago at my in-law's home. After a lot of time studying the problem I discovered that irrigation sprinklers were soaking some of the exterior outlets causing the controlling GFCI-receptacle in the garage to 'trip'. It was intermittent though...not every day. It was just when we had a strong-enough southerly wind, that blew irrigation water onto the south wall of the home, that she had the problem. New all-weather-shields over the outlets coupled with some adjustments to the spray-head patterns solved the problem. No more nuisance tripping.

    Glenn R. Curtis CMI
    La$ Vega$, Nevada
    Inspecting Nevada since 1982

  26. #26
    Philippe Heller's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That may eliminate the GFCI tripping from the freezer as you have removed *required* GFCI protection from the freezer, but the freezer would still be bad, so you would not have eliminated the "problem" (presuming the freezer is the "problem" as you are).
    Is the GFCI protection *required* for the freezer? Or did you mean the receptacles in the garage that require GFCI protection?


  27. #27
    Gary Winfield's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Problem solved. Moved freezer to a NON GFCI receptacle. Had an electrican advise me to install another outlet in an adjoining room.

    Thanks for all the help & I did several checks (ext. cords etc...) before deciding to just move the freezer. Safest solution for the freezer & my garage GFCI's (no more tripping)


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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Now it sounds like you have a faulty freezer on another circuit without anything more than basic overcurrent protection. Someone could get killed touching the wrong parts on that freezer. How old is the freezer? Did the electrican check the current with an accurate digital meter on all three wires to see what was going on with the freezer?

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
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    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippe Heller View Post
    Is the GFCI protection *required* for the freezer?
    No.

    Or did you mean the receptacles in the garage that require GFCI protection?
    Yes.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Winfield View Post
    Problem solved. Moved freezer to a NON GFCI receptacle. Had an electrican advise me to install another outlet in an adjoining room.

    Thanks for all the help & I did several checks (ext. cords etc...) before deciding to just move the freezer. Safest solution for the freezer & my garage GFCI's (no more tripping)
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce King View Post
    Now it sounds like you have a faulty freezer on another circuit without anything more than basic overcurrent protection. Someone could get killed touching the wrong parts on that freezer. How old is the freezer? Did the electrican check the current with an accurate digital meter on all three wires to see what was going on with the freezer?
    Bruce,

    You are correct, his "problem" is not solved - the freezer is still bad.

    However, his "perceived problem" is solved - the GFCI no longer trips.

    He said "Safest solution for the freezer" but he knows not what he says.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Mr. Peck & Mr. King:

    You guys seem very informed about GFCI's.

    QUESTION:

    What if I run my freezer off of a newly installed regular receptacle to a junction box with a GFCI device and connect to the (line side, not load) I have a spotlight and five lights running off this device right now (line side). Although it is a GFCI receptable, it is at the end of the line. The lights and my spotlight did not trip when I lost power in my garage & freezer earlier.

    Thanks


  32. #32
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Winfield View Post
    Mr. Peck & Mr. King:

    You guys seem very informed about GFCI's.

    QUESTION:

    What if I run my freezer off of a newly installed regular receptacle to a junction box with a GFCI device and connect to the (line side, not load) I have a spotlight and five lights running off this device right now (line side). Although it is a GFCI receptacle, it is at the end of the line. The lights and my spotlight did not trip when I lost power in my garage & freezer earlier.

    Thanks
    Gary,

    What your information has indicated to us so far is that your freezer trips the GFCI protection on the circuit the freezer is plugged into - THAT further indicates the freezer has excess leakage current. By excess leakage current I mean leakage current which could lead to a person's death, which is what the GFCI device is attempting to protect against.

    Regardless of whether you plug the freezer into a non-GFCI protected circuit (with no GFCI protection any where in the circuit) or into a GFCI protected circuit such that the freezer is bypassing the GFCI protection, there is no difference - the freezer is not GFCI protected.

    You have yet to rule out the freezer as causing the GFCI to trip, and in fact have basically stated the opposite, and are now asking about bypassing the GFCI protection on a GFCI protected circuit ... all so the freezer will not trip the GFCI, which is tripping because you have a leakage problem with the freezer.

    1) You have removed the freezer from the circuit and the GFCI no longer trips - which indicates the freezer is the problem (at least that is what I read into what you said you did).

    2) You have not yet plugged the freezer into a test cord off a GFCI to see of the freezer trips a GFCI without the previous circuit on the GFCI (at least not that I have read in your posts). You really need to test the freezer and see if it trips a GFCI which does not trip otherwise (you could plug it back into the same circuit which is no longer tripping its GFCI protection, but for testing purposes you should test this with two other independent GFCI devices to verify: a) the freezer is the problem; b) that you do not have a bad GFCI).

    If the freezer trips off all three GFCI devices (you already know it trips off one GFCI device) - then you can rest assured that the freezer is indeed bad and needs to be replaced.

    If the freezer trips off two of the three test GFCI devices, the freezer is likely bad and may be just border-line for the other GFCI, or you may have a bad GFCI.

    A GFCI trips, is *supposed to trip*, at 5 ma plus or minus 1 ma (i.e., 4 ma to 6 ma). You may have a GFCI which does not trip off, or you may have a GFCI which trips off above 6 ma, in which case the freezer is still bad but the GFCI is not proving the proper protection it should and the GFCI needs to be replaced.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  33. #33
    Dave Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    I can see why Gary is confused, I know I am. On one hand you have people telling him that Freezers do not need to be on a GFCI circuit and protected, then on the other hand when he removes the freezer from the GFCI circuit he is told of imminent death due to a bad freezer. Make up your minds. If the freezers do not have to be on GFCI circuits because they trip them off, then prove that the freezer is actually bad and dangerous when its sounds like its actually running normally.

    I have an old Sears compressor. No ground. It ran like a top for decades. Moved into a newer home and it trips the GFCI. So much for modern electrical devices. More headaches than they are worth. Next I supposed I'll get the third degree about not caring about my health and safety. False! I ran this machine for decades in a damp garage laying on concrete, sweating, water from radiators on the floor, never had a problem. Sure its good to be safe, but this GFCI hype is ridiculous.


  34. #34
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Remove the ground fault, and the problem fixes itself. Assuming of course, the GFCI is tripping due to ground fault, and not due to load fault. Either way, remove the fault condition.


  35. #35
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    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Smith View Post
    I can see why Gary is confused, I know I am. On one hand you have people telling him that Freezers do not need to be on a GFCI circuit and protected, then on the other hand when he removes the freezer from the GFCI circuit he is told of imminent death due to a bad freezer. Make up your minds. If the freezers do not have to be on GFCI circuits because they trip them off, then prove that the freezer is actually bad and dangerous when its sounds like its actually running normally.

    I have an old Sears compressor. No ground. It ran like a top for decades. Moved into a newer home and it trips the GFCI. So much for modern electrical devices. More headaches than they are worth. Next I supposed I'll get the third degree about not caring about my health and safety. False! I ran this machine for decades in a damp garage laying on concrete, sweating, water from radiators on the floor, never had a problem. Sure its good to be safe, but this GFCI hype is ridiculous.
    Dave,

    Did you read the posts above?

    I agree with you that you are confused - maybe this will help end your confusion and you will now understand why appliances (including freezers) SHOULD BE ON GFCI protection.

    "I have an old Sears compressor. No ground. It ran like a top for decades. Moved into a newer home and it trips the GFCI. So much for modern electrical devices. More headaches than they are worth."

    The key to that is " ... AS OLD ... " ... as has been stated previously OLD appliances were allowed to have 50 ma of leakage current to ground, and a GFCI trips at 5 ma of leakage current to ground ... obviously, then, the GFCI WILL TRIP.

    NEW appliances are allowed to have 0.5 ma of leakage current to ground, and if the GFCI trips it is telling you that the appliance is leaking too much current to ground and that it COULD KILL YOU.

    Your OLD compressor is quite simply LEAKING TOO MUCH CURRENT TO GROUND (and no "ground wire" is required for that leakage to find a way to ground) and when your OLD compressor trips the GFCI ... that is telling you that your OLD compressor COULD KILL YOU and that is why the GFCI trips.

    I know, you will not believe what I am saying because I am saying that you NEED TO REPLACE YOUR OLD compressor ... and you are not about to do that, so instead you remove the GFCI SAFETY PROTECTION ... makes sense to your wife (dollars and cents) - as long as your life insurance policy is paid up, go for it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  36. #36
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    Lou Romano Guest

    Default Re: ELECTRICAL - GFCI

    In my many years in the electrical trade I have seen quite a few refrigerators that were electrified to the point where they would shock the heck out of you. It is much more common then most know. I would suggest to you HI's to use your non contact voltage testers on every refrigerator in every kitchen (and garage) you check. Wouldn't hurt to pull the plug and make sure the ground hasn't been cut off too! Or that it has been plugged in using an adapter and the ground not attached.

    Personally I think it should be a requirement to have them GFCI protected.

    But God forbid we should lose a refrigerator full of food that thawed and rotted because a GFCI tripped! To prevent that and the sheer inconvenience of it all is surely worth dying for!

    For those of you who sometimes take me too literally, that last paragraph is meant to be sarcastic!

    Last edited by Lou Romano; 07-25-2011 at 07:35 PM.

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