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  1. #1
    Jon mackay's Avatar
    Jon mackay Guest

    Default Refrigerators testing live voltage

    I have been running into many open ground outlets with refrigerators connected to them lately. Sometimes, the refrigerator is testing live and when a volt meter is connected to a ground and to the refrigerator, I have had readings from 16 to 100 volts show up. Why does this happen? Is it a problem with the refrigerator? If the outlet was grounded, would this trip the breaker?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Plano, Texas

    Default Re: Refrigerators testing live voltage

    Jon, that is why they need the grounded outlet. Most likely that is a very small amount of current, but you never know. If you have a very large current it could trip the breaker, but not likely if it is just "stray" volatage from an antisweat heater, etc. Older appliances had higher threshold limits for leakage, but the frame needs to be grounded. I would not want to be touching a ground source and that refrigerator at the same time. It takes a very small amount of current to stop a heart.

    Jim Luttrall
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
    John Steinke's Avatar
    John Steinke Guest

    Default Re: Refrigerators testing live voltage

    In the past few years, there has been quite a 'sea change' in thinking on this topic. Some of this is due to better technology, some is due to a better understanding of what's going on.

    Refrigerators, and anything with a hermetically sealed compressor, often leak some electricity while the compressor is running. This was generally never noticed, nor was it seen as a problem, until the GFI came around.

    "Nuisance" tripping of the GFI by the fridge led to a practice of not placing fridges on GFI's. Then, a few years back, a few standards were changed.
    HVAC equipment began to be made that leaked less.
    GFI's were made more resistant to nuisance tripping (from causes such as power factor, etc.)

    But that's all eyewash. One ought not get shocked by the fridge - even if they're touching the faucet. That's a problem that needs to be fixed. Chances are, the compressor on the fridge is at the end of it's life.

  4. #4
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Refrigerators testing live voltage

    It is sometimes hard to get a true reading with the digital voltmeters in use today. I would try an analog meter like a Simpson 260 to get an accurate reading of stray voltages.

  5. #5
    Roger Kautz's Avatar
    Roger Kautz Guest

    Default Re: Refrigerators testing live voltage

    Maybe it's a new "stray voltage diet plan". You might get on Oprah with that.


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