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Refrigerator circuit


Robert E Lee
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Did an inspection earlier this month on a 2003 single family home. When checking out the GFCI outlets in the kitchen I notice that the refrigerator shuts off when the GFCI tripped, so I write it up saying the refrigerator should be on a dedicated circuit. The Agent calls me this evening while doing the final walk-through and says the sellers did not correct the wiring to the fridge since its not "code". For the life of me I'm not able to find any code reference, but I have always understood that motor circuits could cause GFCI's to trip. Which in this case makes for sour milk...anyone have any help.

Robert E Lee

Rochester, MN

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Hi,

The rule for the kitchen is all circuits GFCI protected except that those receptacles that are not readily accessible may be non-GFCI protected or words to that effect. Having a fridge on a GFCI receptacle is pretty dumb, but I don't think it is prohibited. Jim will correct me if I'm wrong.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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That's one of those items that I don't try to explain as being code or "not code". I explain it as being stupid. Folks often forget common sense & worry about code interpretation; common sense makes, well, more sense in many cases. I usually try to avoid code cites in my reports, partly because I work in Chicago metro where it is impossible to know all the codes for the various municipalities, but also because most folks understand logic & common sense better than they understand code references.

If you explain how GFCI's can trip unexpectedly, and note that unexpected failures in refrigerator circuits are unwelcome, people get it right away.

Also, the way the realtor called you, instead of the customer, usually shows that the realtor is/was a pinhead who was trying to go tit for tat with you instead of just doing her job. I hate it when morons try to draw me into that stuff. Besides, what business is it of ours if a seller does something we recommend, or not?

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Same situation or worse exists in garages where freezer is connected to GFCI. I say worse because the $ loss can be much greater because you don't go to the freezer as often. Years ago your insurance might cover such an expense but nooooooo more. I have to point this out to my clients. Same as I point out metal lines on the all in one toilet valves that are notorious sources of home flooding.

Just my opinion, could be wrong.

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  • 1 year later...

Not sure if I read this right but I wanted to clarrify for those that might not understand it.

In the kitchen the counter tops are the only requirement for GFCI, now the fridge can be on that counter top circuit or it can have its own dedicated line which BTW can be a 15A dedicated feed to the fridge if the client so desires.

While the fridge would probably be removed from a GFCI requirement anyway due to its dedicated space...thats not the real reason it is not on GFCI...the reason is it is in the kitchen but NOT on the countertop so it does not have to be GFCI.

Can it be GFCI...sure...nothing says it cant and the modern GFCI's today will not trip so easy on a standard fridge..so I would not worry about that as much....but again the fridge is not required to be on GFCI period......but if it was...that would be fine also.

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Originally posted by PAbernathy

Not sure if I read this right but I wanted to clarrify for those that might not understand it.

In the kitchen the counter tops are the only requirement for GFCI, now the fridge can be on that counter top circuit or it can have its own dedicated line which BTW can be a 15A dedicated feed to the fridge if the client so desires.

While the fridge would probably be removed from a GFCI requirement anyway due to its dedicated space...thats not the real reason it is not on GFCI...the reason is it is in the kitchen but NOT on the countertop so it does not have to be GFCI.

Can it be GFCI...sure...nothing says it cant and the modern GFCI's today will not trip so easy on a standard fridge..so I would not worry about that as much....but again the fridge is not required to be on GFCI period......but if it was...that would be fine also.

I agree with all that, but I'll add this. The fridge can be on one of the countertop circuits and still be non-GFCI-protected. That may be the simplest solution for Robert to offer to his customers. It's a simple thing to adjust the wiring to take the fridge off the GFCI -- much easier than installing a dedicated circuit as he recommended.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Section 210.8 of the NEC makes exceptions to the requirements regarding GFCI protection for outlets dedicated to or specifically intended to provide power to a refrigerator/freezer in a kitchen, garage, or basement (as well as for outlets which are intended to serve burglar and fire alarm systems. At the same time, providing GFCI protection for such receptacle outlets is not expressly prohibited by the NEC.

With regard to kitchens, as long as the outlet for the refrigerator is located in a dedicated space for the refrigerator and where countertop appliances or other equipment can't be connected to it, GFCI protection is not required. The writers of the NEC provide this exception because they recognize the potential for damage associated with loss of power to food storage appliances and, at the same time, they’re not concerned that a refrigerator or freezer might accidentally be knocked into a sink. In addition, GFCI protection is not required for food waste disposers, dishwashers, or trash compactors either.

So, if it’s determined that the outlet for the refrigerator is GFCI protected, it’s appropriate to point it out to clients and to discuss the potential ramifications. At the same time, if it’s as originally installed by the builder at the time of original construction (and since it’s not expressly prohibited), it’s also understandable why a seller might balk if requested to pay to eliminate the GFCI protection. We know that the most likely reason that it is GFCI protected in the first place is the result of an inattentive electrician.

On its own and given the cost typically associated with eliminating the GFCI protection for the outlet, it would hardly seem that it would be a major point of contention between buyer and seller. Still, we all know how strange those after-the-inspection negotiations can become. Discussing the condition with the client so that the client clearly understands the issues and the relatively low cost to eliminate the GFCI protection and then documenting it in the report as a recommended elective upgrade condition or in some other manner that brings it to the attention of the client while not creating the impression that it is a “deficiencyâ€

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hmmmm...I think we said that...indirectly in order to keep it brief...but thanks..lol....I know what the NEC says about it..lol

But in your second paragraph.....the GFCI not being required on the Fridge in a kitchen has nothing to do with dedicated space per say....it is not on the counter so it would not be required to be GFCI anyway...as is none of the other receptacles in the kitchen, dining room and pantry......if not on the counter......just some FYI...:)

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Thanks for your input and clarification. Now, correct me if my understanding is of the following is askew. I thought the NEC requirement pertaining to GFCI protection for kitchen receptacle outlets didn't simply pertain to outlets on countertops but to outlets installed to serve countertop surfaces. That's why outlets on the sides of a kitchen island are required to be GFCI protected. Most modern kitchens are designed with a space specifically for the refrigerator. Typically, architects and draftsmen will specifically indicate a non-GFCI protected wall outlet in this space because they understand that the outlet is not only intended to serve the refrigerator but also because, once the refrigerator is installed, the outlet will not be accessible to serve any adjacent countertop. That's what I was trying to convey but apparently didn't do very well regarding GFCI protection for outlets serving refrigerators.

I think that my understanding of the NEC exception pertaining to GFCI protection for garage and unfinished basement outlets spilled over into my explanation. GFCI protection is not required for "A single receptacle or a duplex receptacle for two appliances located within dedicated space for each appliance that, in normal use, is not easily moved form one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connected."

I was trying to present the concept that often, in modern kitchen designs, the floor plan not only includes a space specifically for the refrigerator, the design precludes installing the refrigerator anywhere else. Thus, the space is dedicated. But, you're correct. The term "dedicated" is not used for exceptions in kitchens. It's only implied in the concept that outlets serving countertops are required to be GFCI protected; those that do not serve countertops are not required to be GFCI protected and those can include outlets other than an outlet for the refrigerator.

No one ever accused any of the codes of absolute consistency in their language - but they keep improving.

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Lol.....(6) Kitchens — where the receptacles are installed to serve

the countertop surfaces

Of the 210.8 Section...it pertains to the recepts to serve the countertop surfaces...the islands within the kitchen are considered counter spaces as well and is why the receptacles are required int eh first place....but the dedicated space issue in regards to the kitchen GFCI has nothing to do with it.....the GFCI reference has to do with counter space receptacles and those to serve it.

Your other areas and gargage and so on are clear and fine...Just remember if the garage has a duplex receptacle and only one appliance is serving it...and one it open...technically at that point the receptacle can be served by another item and based on the NEC it would need to be GFCI protected.......unless again it is not readily accessible in which case it would be a moot point.

Here is the info per the NEC on your Garage portion:

(2) Garages, and also accessory buildings that have a #64258;oor

located at or below grade level not intended as habitable

rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas,

and areas of similar use

Exception No. 1 to (2): Receptacles that are not readily

accessible.

Exception No. 2 to (2): A single receptacle or a duplex receptacle

for two appliances located within dedicated space for each appliance that, in normal use, is not easily moved from one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connected in accordance with 400.7(A)(6), (A)(7), or (A)(8). Receptacles installed under the exceptions to 210.8(A)(2)shall not be considered as meeting the requirements of 210.52(G)

SOOO...just remember if TWO appliances are NOT using the duplex receptacle as the article refers to....it MUST meet the NEC requirements for GFCI.....just some electrical education....ENJOY !

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Paul,

Clarify something for me. Is it acceptable to install a non-GFCI protected duplex receptacle outlet in a garage to serve a single appliance such as a permanently installed central vacuum power unit or a freezer or would a single or simplex outlet be required? Clearly, a simplex outlet would reduce the potential for connecting non-permanent or easily moveable equipment to the unused half of a non-GFCI protected duplex outlet.

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Something to think about when a GFCI device trips open. There may actually be a ground fault that is causing the GFCI to trip.

The current UL standards that manufacturers of GFCI devices follow and also the standards for appliance manufacturers have been coordinated to make it so the appliances can be installed on the GFCI protected devices/circuits and still operate.

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I view my reports as basically recommendations. No one pays attention to me - ok. Seller won't pull out GFCI for the refrig? Ok. Don't loose the house over that. Change it after you close.

I avoid citing code when I can. I prefer to refer to Best Practice or as already mentioned, Common Sense. I also agree that citing code can gunk up the process.

I've got a situation now - I wrote that cracks were in the furnace and unit is unsatisfactory. Contractor came out, noted the cracks in his receipt and said that the 25 yr old furnace was fine. I get calls from buyer and agent wanting my advice. My advice: same as I wrote in the report - I disagree with the contractor. Told the client that this is were negotiation works its magic.

Sometimes buyers dig in too deep on some issues that really aren't worth it. They get hung up on pride and emotion. As inspectors we can be of assistance in helping clients decide what they may want to ask of sellers. I've had clients get real excited about some small gas leak I found but are willing to ignore the brick chimney problem. In my view, hit the seller with the chimney and fix the leak after you move in.

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Originally posted by Pierre

Something to think about when a GFCI device trips open. There may actually be a ground fault that is causing the GFCI to trip.

The current UL standards that manufacturers of GFCI devices follow and also the standards for appliance manufacturers have been coordinated to make it so the appliances can be installed on the GFCI protected devices/circuits and still operate.

FPE and Zinsco panels had a UL rateing as well!

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Originally posted by Pierre

Something to think about when a GFCI device trips open. There may actually be a ground fault that is causing the GFCI to trip.

Good point. Sometimes it's easy to overlook the obvious.

The current UL standards that manufacturers of GFCI devices follow and also the standards for appliance manufacturers have been coordinated to make it so the appliances can be installed on the GFCI protected devices/circuits and still operate.

I've noticed that. Nuisance trips have become very, very rare.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Not to toss a old sock into the gears of the thread, but I'm certain an instructor in a CE class said some authority, somewhere, mandated dedicated circuits for fridges so indigent families couldn't inadvertently lose an irreplaceable--due to liquid assets--week's worth of food should a GFCI trip. Maybe the speaker was a nut, but it makes sense.

I will, however, rely on and defer to, Jim and the NEC on this one.

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Originally posted by Bain

Not to toss a old sock into the gears of the thread, but I'm certain an instructor in a CE class said some authority, somewhere, mandated dedicated circuits for fridges so indigent families couldn't inadvertently lose an irreplaceable--due to liquid assets--week's worth of food should a GFCI trip. Maybe the speaker was a nut, but it makes sense.

I will, however, rely on and defer to, Jim and the NEC on this one.

Indigent families? Could it have been some sort of HUD class? HUD has all sorts of peculiar rules that are unrelated to the model codes.

It's certainly not an NEC requirement.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by housewhisperer

Paul,

Clarify something for me. Is it acceptable to install a non-GFCI protected duplex receptacle outlet in a garage to serve a single appliance such as a permanently installed central vacuum power unit or a freezer or would a single or simplex outlet be required? Clearly, a simplex outlet would reduce the potential for connecting non-permanent or easily moveable equipment to the unused half of a non-GFCI protected duplex outlet.

Sorry I have not been back in some time..I see others have answered the basic of your questions.

Take a look at 210.8(A)(2) in that it states the following:

210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel.

FPN: See 215.9 for ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel on feeders.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in(1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

(1) Bathrooms

(2) Garages, and also accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level not intended as habitable

rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas,

and areas of similar use

Exception No. 1: Receptacles that are not readily accessible.

Exception No. 2: A single receptacle or a duplex receptacle for two appliances located within dedicated space for each appliance that, in normal use, is not easily moved from one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connectedin accordance with 400.7(A)(6), (A)(7), or (A)(8).

So basically the way the code looks at it...if it is a duplex that is not dedicated for that appliance..lets say one plug is used for a freezer and the other is open to anything else...it would need to be GFCI.

If it is behind and not readly accessible...no GFCI needed...

Point is on that example is...half that plug is FREE to be used like any other in a garage..and thus needs to be GFCI.

SO if it is a dedicated branch circuit and a duplex feeding lets say 1/2 to a Fridge and the other to a freezer...no GFCI needed.

Hope that explains it.

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