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Major Appliances/Refrigerator trips GFI, etc


QUESTION: Greetings,
I have had an older (15 years old, I believe that came with the house) GE refrigerator running without issue in my basement since I bought the house 8 years ago. Last week we noticed that the GFI outlet in our 3rd floor bathroom was tripped, and after (much searching) resetting the GFI outlet in the basement bathroom, all was well. A couple days later, I discovered that the basement refrigerator contained warm beer, but still frozen steaks. The outlet the refrigerator is plugged into is not a GFI, but is on a wall that divides the bathroom (where the tripped GFI is) from where the refrigerator lives. If I plug the refrigerator into another, non GFI outlet, it does not throw the breaker but also does not run for 20-30 minutes. I turned the dial to 0 then to 9, but the refrigerator did not start running.

I removed the back access panel and cleaned out all the dust etc that had accumulated. The fan spins freely, so no seizure there. I reconnected it to the original outlet and it ran overnight before tripping again. A very small amount of water was present in the drip tray. After half an hour or so, it was running like a top - in fact the thing ran overnight before tripping the GFI again.

I believe that the GFI outlets are *not* faulty, since I could not make the refrigerator start cooling when it clearly had power (lights on) via another outlet. But my refrigerator troubleshooting skills end there. Running intermittently and randomly drawing enough current to trip a GFI? Curious, no?


ANSWER: First thing I would check is the compressor relay assembly.  Remove the rear cover after unplugging the unit and then looking at the compressor, there will be a cover which contains the electrical connections.  The electrical connections simply pull off the compressor.  Pull the relay off the compressor and look for bad or burnt connections.  Shake the relay lightly and tell me if it sounds like a babies rattle.

Waiting to hear from you,
Eric and Ann Campion

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QUESTION: Thank you for your prompt response, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner - I am just now getting back to this.

I was able to remove a retaining clip that was holding a cover attached to the compressor in place. Beneath, was what I believe you are referring to as the relay. Part #733 in the linked diagram, and depicted in the attached photo. There was no rattle heard or felt while shaking this part.

Here is the exploded diagram: (

Do you have an amperage meter?  If so, we need to place an amp meter....the clamp on are the best and easiest to use.  Clamp it on the line side of the wires going to the compressor and then plug in the unit.  Get me the start up amp draw as well as the run amperage draw.  Eric  

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Eric Campion


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