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I have a Kenmore 80 Series (Model No. 110.24872300) washing machine which up to this point has been working fine. Since it is near a sink, the outlet it is plugged into is a GFCI outlet. On the last load I came back after letting it run for some time to find that it had tripped the GFCI in the middle of the wash cycle - the washer was still full of soapy water. I reset the outlet and let it run again, only to come down the next morning and find it full of water still (it had tripped during the rinse cycle this time). I reset the outlet again and this time it finished the rest of the cycle.

My guess is that water is somehow getting onto the internal components of the washer and causing it to short - is there any way I can test this theory or fix the problem myself?

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Is there any moisture near the receptacle itself? How old is the washing machine? What else is plugged into the receptacle? Does the receptacle protect any other devices downstream, and if so what? How old is the GFCI device? Does this happen every time you run the washer now? Was anything out of the ordinary going on during the fault (heavy rain, flood, hurricane, alien invasion, etc)? Is there any signs of water under the washer (indicating a leak)? – Tester101 Aug 17 '12 at 12:06
@Tester101 There is no (I mean zero) moisture near the receptacle or under the washer. The washing machine is (best guess) 5-8 years old. Nothing else is plugged into the receptacle. I believe that the receptacle does not protect any other devices. (I would have to check to see what else is connected on that circuit, correct?) I have not run the washer again since the issues I described. There was no unusual weather or alien activity during the fault. – process91 Aug 17 '12 at 12:14
The easy debugging step is to swap out the GFCI outlet. If you're comfortable with home wiring, this is a $15 project and will isolate the problem to either the outlet, or the washing machine and downstream wiring. – BMitch Aug 17 '12 at 12:19
@BMitch How about running an extension cord to a different GFCI outlet? – process91 Aug 17 '12 at 12:29
Run the washer again, and watch it. Note what is happening when it trips (is it starting to spin, starting to drain, filling, etc.). If it trips, reset it and restart the washer. Try to figure out if it always occurs at the same time, or if it seems random. – Tester101 Aug 17 '12 at 12:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

(Summarizing the comments above)

To narrow this problem down, there are three places that could be causing the GFCI to trip, a malfunction in the washing machine, a problem with the downstream wiring (aka load side of the GFCI), or the GFCI outlet itself. If there isn't anything downstream, then plugging the washing machine into another GFCI outlet, or simply swapping out the outlet for a known good GFCI outlet, will identify if the outlet itself is faulty.

If the outlet trips when the washing machine isn't running and isn't even plugged in, then there's a fault in the wiring on the load side of the GFCI outlet.

If the issue is neither of the above, then running the washing machine and monitoring to see which step is occurring when the trip happens will isolate what part of the washing machine may be leaking current to a ground. It could be a certain water level, a motor being engaged, a transition step in the controller, etc.

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For anyone who may be having a similar problem - I did not end up replacing the GFCI, even though signs pointed to that being the issue. After putting it back to the original GFCI, I did not have any other trouble for several months. Then this month, the washing machine stopped mid-cycle with water still in it, but the GFCI did not trip this time. It turned out to be the lid switch. I bought a new one for $5 here and replaced it. I think this was the cause of the previous issue as well, because the switch assembly was.. – process91 Aug 22 '13 at 14:24
.. broken open. It looked like the rubber seal had dried out over time, and the switch assembly was exposed. My guess is that water splashed onto the assembly in the past, somehow causing the GFCI to trip. In any event, if you are having trouble with your washing machine stopping mid-cycle for any reason, replacing the lid switch is probably a worthwhile idea, as it is cheap and easy to replace. – process91 Aug 22 '13 at 14:26

Believe it or not, our Whirlpool Supreme clothes washer was doing the same thing TODAY. Repeatedly and finally immediately tripping the dedicated GFCI and also a substitute one (used extension cord to go to the bathroom).

SOLUTION: Supply feed line screens were partially or fully clogged with particles from our private well. Removed, cleaned, reinstalled and like magic, the washer works great!

Hypothesis: The water valve solenoids were starved for water to keep them cool, so they got hot and caused too much current to flow, thus tripping the GFCI?

Hope this helps others, Good Luck? Trucster

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That's...a non sequitur. – ThreePhaseEel Dec 30 '15 at 3:37

Washing machines or any other motor should not be on a GFCI! Should be a dedicated single receptacle. If there are other outlets on the washer GFCI, replace that GFCI with a single receptacle and put the GFCI on the next jump in order to protect other outlets.

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Are you sure about that? This seems to indicate that it is required (my washing machine is in an unfinished basement, and less than 1.8m from a sink) - iaei.org/blogpost/929497/158403/… – process91 Jul 6 '13 at 23:52
Yea if its that close to the sink that makes sense..i didn't know that info....i would agree with changing the gfci..i personally took my gfci out everywhere other than the kitchen.. – teddy Jul 7 '13 at 1:18

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