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  1. #1
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    Apr 2008
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    Default Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    As is commonly seen, many times during inspections I find food freezers connected to a GFCI protected receptacle. On at least two previous occasions, when I tested the master GFCI, it failed to reset causing the freeze to lose power. The homeowner luckily had an extension cord and we connected the freezer to a non-GFCI receptacle until the owner could have an electrician resolve the GFCI issue. I am curious how others handle the testing of GFCI receptacles when you can determine beforehand that a food freezer is connected to a GFCI protected receptacle that could potentially fail during test.

    As a side-note: In Texas we have an interesting dichotomy in our regulations. GFCI’s should be tested whether the home is occupied or not, but AFCI’s are not required to be tested if the home is occupied. Seems to me the regulations should test GFCI’s and AFCI’s the same with regard to testing.

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  2. #2
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    Mar 2007
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    Santa Rosa, CA
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    2,479

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    I find that freezers typically block access to the GFCI. If there is a lot of stuff in a garage and I cannot find the GFCI, I disclaim it. Homes built in the '80s often wired the bathroom receptacle outlets to the garage, so I won't test bathroom outlets for GFCI if the device is not readily accessible. It does my client no good to waste 15 minutes of my time to look for a hidden device. I let them know that I could not find it and recommend that it be made accessible so it can be regularly tested and reset, if needed.

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  3. #3
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    Jun 2008
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    Stacy, MN
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    I used to do Point of Sale housing inspections for a city almost 20 years ago. Unbeknownst to me the homeowner was making bread in a bread machine in the kitchen when I tested the GFI outlet. The bread in the machine was about halfway through the bake cycle; it restarted mixing and kneading the dough when it came back on. The homeowner was not pleased...


  4. #4
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    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    I test GFCIs at the GFCIs and then see what outlets are downstream from them. I test them even if a frig or freezer is on one, and like you, I've had a few refuse to reset. I call the listing agent and tell them what happened. So far, I've never had any blow back.

    Which kinda reminds me that yesterday, I had two cats run into the house as I was coming and going. Both cats appeared to belong to the house. One immediately jumped on the couch and went to sleep and the other disappeared. I couldn't reach the listor, so I left them in the house. So far, no one has called me to say "W..T..H..!".

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2015
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    Colorado
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Correct, Lon. In the process of trying to determine the presence of GFCI protection at various locations, operate/test the actual GFCI devices (breakers, receptacle outlets, and blank face devices). If the GFCI device operates and disconnects the power to itself, then, with it still in the tripped mode, go to other receptacle outlets or equipment and determine which (if any) also show no power. Then, reset the GFCI device and retest any receptacle outlets or equipment which previously showed no power to verify that they are protected by the GFCI device in question.

    Testing for GFCI protection by using a testing device to try to trip an as yet to be located GFCI device increases the potential for a worst-case scenario where the occupants who are away on a long vacation have parked their truck against the freezer which is connected to a GFCI receptacle outlet. Even if the listing agent is informed of the issue, he or she may not be able to reach the seller. The result is a biology experiment in which the freezer which turns into a large, expensive, and foul -smelling Petri dish.


  6. #6
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    Mar 2007
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    Plano, Texas
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    145

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Gene,
    It's best if you look in the garage before tripping the exterior (or in the homes built in the 70's and early 80s' around here, the bathroom outlets. I will make sure I can get to it before tripping and if it is blocked I will make sure the buyer knows it wasn't tested. I got to reset the time on dinner in the Crockpot a few weeks ago when I tripped the kitchen outlet. I made sure I knew how much time I needed to set it for before I tripped it. I believe our SOP has us check GFCI's and not the Arc Faults because the arc fault locations are generally where folks plug in Security, PC's, network (routers & modems), TV's, recording devices and alarm clocks. Don't want to mess with those testing arc fault breakers.
    Just one on those things you have to look for before you test, like the garage door opener (is it locked) or the pressure reverse feature (is there a support strut) otherwise you just get in trouble.


  7. #7
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    Dec 2007
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    Holladay, UT
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    565

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    I test GFCIs at the GFCIs and then see what outlets are downstream from them. I test them even if a frig or freezer is on one, and like you, I've had a few refuse to reset. I call the listing agent and tell them what happened. So far, I've never had any blow back.

    Which kinda reminds me that yesterday, I had two cats run into the house as I was coming and going. Both cats appeared to belong to the house. One immediately jumped on the couch and went to sleep and the other disappeared. I couldn't reach the listor, so I left them in the house. So far, no one has called me to say "W..T..H..!".
    Lon, Reminds me of a story an agent I know had. When showing a house they had the door open. A little while later they noticed a cat run out of the house. They chased the cat for an hour and finally got it back in the house. When they relayed the story to homeowner the homeowner said "we don't own a cat".

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  8. #8
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    Apr 2008
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    McKinney Texas
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    475

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Burnett View Post
    Gene,
    It's best if you look in the garage before tripping the exterior (or in the homes built in the 70's and early 80s' around here, the bathroom outlets. I will make sure I can get to it before tripping and if it is blocked I will make sure the buyer knows it wasn't tested. I got to reset the time on dinner in the Crockpot a few weeks ago when I tripped the kitchen outlet. I made sure I knew how much time I needed to set it for before I tripped it. I believe our SOP has us check GFCI's and not the Arc Faults because the arc fault locations are generally where folks plug in Security, PC's, network (routers & modems), TV's, recording devices and alarm clocks. Don't want to mess with those testing arc fault breakers.
    Just one on those things you have to look for before you test, like the garage door opener (is it locked) or the pressure reverse feature (is there a support strut) otherwise you just get in trouble.
    I don't test GFCI's until I have checked around the house to see what is connected to the circuits. I learned that lesson a long time ago.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Prescott, AZ
    Posts
    91

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin O'Hornett View Post
    Correct, Lon. In the process of trying to determine the presence of GFCI protection at various locations, operate/test the actual GFCI devices (breakers, receptacle outlets, and blank face devices). If the GFCI device operates and disconnects the power to itself, then, with it still in the tripped mode, go to other receptacle outlets or equipment and determine which (if any) also show no power. Then, reset the GFCI device and retest any receptacle outlets or equipment which previously showed no power to verify that they are protected by the GFCI device in question.

    Testing for GFCI protection by using a testing device to try to trip an as yet to be located GFCI device increases the potential for a worst-case scenario where the occupants who are away on a long vacation have parked their truck against the freezer which is connected to a GFCI receptacle outlet. Even if the listing agent is informed of the issue, he or she may not be able to reach the seller. The result is a biology experiment in which the freezer which turns into a large, expensive, and foul -smelling Petri dish.

    This sound like a good idea, and I use it sometimes. But what about a 4500 sf home where the master bath gfci protects the left deck and patio, the 1/2 bath gfci protects the front porch and lower bath, etc. You could spend an hour easily running room to room.

    I check the garage very carefully before I use my tester. If I don't see a gfci, and there are cabinets or shelves blocking one wall I may not test a visible outlet. (This is when I will 'test'
    the bath and ext outlets to double check, but it is rare in my area for the garage gfci to be outside the garage.)

    But I usually do test a visible outlet while listening for where it trips. Occasionally this is a pain when it trips off and I can't get to it, but at least I heard it and know which wall it's on.

    imho not testing bath or ext outlets for gfci protection is a disservice to my clients. Telling them to verify there is gfci protection and/or the location of gfci devices may be something they think they have to do after they take possession, and then forget about it with the move, etc. Telling them they don't have gfci protection means something has to be done.

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

  10. #10
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    Mar 2007
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    NoCal
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene South View Post
    I don't test GFCI's until I have checked around the house to see what is connected to the circuits. I learned that lesson a long time ago.
    I too learned that lesson. Find the GFCI first, and then check garage, bath, exterior outlets. Kitchen almost always has its' own GFCI.

    As far as the AFCI... I use this:
    "NOTE: This panel is equipped with AFCI breakers. Special receptacles in the bedroom, or other, areas were protected by AFCI - arc fault circuit interrupters. Testing of these is recommend monthly by pushing the blue (or white, yellow, etc) button on the breaker at the panel.
    We do not test these, if the house is occupied, as this will trip the power to the protected outlets requiring resetting of clocks, timers, computers, etc. Testing of these is recommend monthly by pushing the button on the breaker at the panel. The circuit breakers themselves require resetting, by first pushing the toggle to the 'OFF' position, then pushing to the 'ON' position."

    If the house is vacant, I will test and report accordingly


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    There is a new type of GFCI that has an audible alarm that goes off when tripped. The manufacturer specifically intended these for refrigerator/garage applications.


  12. #12
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    Nov 2009
    Location
    Dallas, TX
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    89

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    There is also a GFCI/AFCI combo breaker.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Wenatchee Wa
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    301

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    I try to find them before testing but sometime even that backfires. Had on go off in the garage which I thought I had found them all but it turns out there was one more. I spent about 15 to 20 minutes hunting for it before I gave up a had the agent let the owners know.

    All these devices really need to be readily accessible, it is code now but it should've always been that way.

    For me the good news is that the 2014 states that-

    210.52 (G)
    "In each attached garage and in each detached garage with electric power. The branch circuit supplying this receptacle(s) shall not supply outlets outside of the garage. At least one receptacle outlet shall be installed for each car space.

    Now, I would be chasing them in the garage it will be somewhere else


    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  14. #14
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    Mar 2015
    Location
    Colorado
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    26

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Since the term “GFCI/AFCI combo breaker” appears in this thread, let’s sort out the different types of AFCI devices so we can all sing from the same hymnal. COMBINATION ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS are AFCIs which comply with the requirements for both branch/feeder and receptacle outlet circuit AFCIs. They are intended to protect downstream branch circuit wiring and cord sets as well as power-supply cords against both high-energy parallel arcing (the same as existing branch/feeder AFCIs) and low-energy series arcing. That is, they provide enhanced detection of persistent low current or “series” arcing faults which mitigates fire hazards in cords connected to receptacle outlets. They are also dual listed as circuit breakers and AFCIs. DUAL FUNCTION AFCI DEVICES Combine Combination Arc Fault Protection with Class A Ground fault protection. BRANCH/FEEDER-TYPE AFCIs are intended to be installed at the origin of a branch circuit or feeder – such as at a panelboard. They are intended to provide protection of the branch circuit wiring, feeder wiring, or both, against unwanted effects of arcing. They also provide limited protection to branch circuit extension wiring. They can be circuit breaker-types or devices located in their own enclosures and mounted at or near panelboards. They are dual listed as UL 489 circuit breakers and UL 1699 AFCIs. OUTLET BRANCH CIRCUIT-TYPE AFCIs are AFCIs intended to be installed as the first outlet in a branch circuit. They are intended to provide protection to downstream branch circuit wiring, cord sets, and power supply cords against the unwanted effects of arcing. They also provide protection to upstream branch circuit wiring. They are intended to be provided with or without receptacle outlets. Keep in mind that the “protection to upstream branch circuit wiring” is limited to series arcing.


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia, electrical only
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin O'Hornett View Post
    Since the term “GFCI/AFCI combo breaker” appears in this thread, let’s sort out the different types of AFCI devices so we can all sing from the same hymnal. .
    In submitting my column for Electrical Contractor recently I told my editor that I was using the term, "Dual AFCI-GFCI" breaker unless they had different policy. He checked with Mike Johnston, now NECA's Codes and Standards man and formerly IAEI's. Mike told us to just use "Combination AFCI-GFCI."

    I suspect the rationale is that "Combination-type Series-Parallel AFCI" normally is excess verbiage.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    In submitting my column for Electrical Contractor recently I told my editor that I was using the term, "Dual AFCI-GFCI" breaker unless they had different policy. He checked with Mike Johnston, now NECA's Codes and Standards man and formerly IAEI's. Mike told us to just use "Combination AFCI-GFCI."

    I suspect the rationale is that "Combination-type Series-Parallel AFCI" normally is excess verbiage.
    David,

    I suspect the rationale is that the breaker is not a "dual" breaker, it is a "single" breaker (not as in "single-pole", but as in "a single unit") which provides a combination of protection, in the above case that would be a combination of AFCI protection and GFCI protection ... as well as (of course) overcurrent protection.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
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    Mar 2012
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    Oregon
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    2

    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Weck View Post
    I used to do Point of Sale housing inspections for a city almost 20 years ago. Unbeknownst to me the homeowner was making bread in a bread machine in the kitchen when I tested the GFI outlet. The bread in the machine was about halfway through the bake cycle; it restarted mixing and kneading the dough when it came back on. The homeowner was not pleased...
    Nowadays it is the new, electronic crock pots that shut off, then you have no idea what they had them scheduled to do... Ooops.


  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI when food freezer is connected to GFCI circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Nowadays it is the new, electronic crock pots that shut off, then you have no idea what they had them scheduled to do... Ooops.
    That's why the HI tells their client AND the agent the HI arranged the inspection with to make sure to let the occupants know that the HI needs access to the attic, will be testing GFCI's and clocks/timers/appliances/etc (include everything you can think of) may shut off and that the HI is not responsible for resetting anything which shuts off.

    Problem solved.

    It is now the agent's problem as to who resets stuff.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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