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About a week ago, a GFCI tripped. I noticed that because appliances in my kitchen stopped working. The short story is that something was put into an outlet that shouldn't have been. That's not the issue. My son went to put some stuff in the deep freezer in our garage today and discovered that the freezer was out and that we had some rotting food. My question is, why did a GFCI in my kitchen and in my garage trip? When one trips, do they all trip? Did the added strain of a foreign object in an outlet cause them all to trip? Was it just a coincidence?

Second question. What's the best remedy for this? Should I swap out the GFI or try to do some sort of alarm?

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2 Answers 2

I have seen surges or dips in voltage trip GFIs. Can't explain why, but I have seen it. Also, older GFIs were slightly more prone to nuisance tripping. If they are more than a few years old replacing them would not hurt one bit.

These two are not on the same circuit by any chance are they? I sincerely hope not, but it would explain things.

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I have noticed that it is not so much the GFCI but the motor. I moved in with my now-wife and brought my (newer) fridge. It has never tripped a GFCI (my previous house had all GFCI in the kitchen even for the fridge's dedicated circuit), but hers (old model) did when it was briefly plugged in to one. Friend kept tripping his GFCI with an old fridge until they bought a brand new fridge. I think maybe some of the newer motors spike less, but this is purely anecdotal. –  John Gaughan Mar 11 at 3:30

It's difficult to speculate on how the circuits might be interacting to cause GFCIs on two different circuits to trip. It may just be coincidence. However:

A freezer should be on its own dedicated circuit, and that circuit should not have a GFCI. A freezer alarm is a good idea as well.

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Depending on the code in place at the time of installation, even a freezer receptacle in a garage MUST have GFI protection. I know there are some that will say "Regardless of the code I would not GFI a freezer, blah, blah, blah". I am not one of them. The exception for non-GFI'ing things like freezers in garages was removed several code cycles ago. –  Speedy Petey Mar 11 at 0:00
    
Generally, motors for refrigerators/freezers, washing machines, and other high-amperage AC motors must be on dedicated circuits NOT protected by GFCI because the voltage spike when they first turn on can trip them. However, as @SpeedyPetey says, code may say otherwise: follow the code if you must, but in general, a freezer should be on its own non-GFCI circuit. –  John Gaughan Mar 11 at 3:28
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See, now advice such as this bothers me, because it somehow suggests that it's OK to ignore the code if you think you have a good reason for it. –  Speedy Petey Mar 11 at 10:52
    
Actually, there's a perfectly good (new) code compliant way to do both - move the freezer out of the garage to a non-wet (non-garage, non-below-grade unfinished...) location where GFCIs are not required. Under 2005 code, there was a specific exception - if your area has not updated which code they use, it may still be acceptable. It appears to have been removed in the 2008 code. –  Ecnerwal Mar 11 at 14:38
    
If your frig is tripping a GFCI it is because the GFCI is doing its job as a safety device to protect people. With that being said, older GFCI outlets will sometime trip with a frig or freezer on them. New ones will not unless there is a ground fault in the frig or freezer. Ignoring electrical codes in never a good idea. New GFCI outlets are not affected by a voltage spike, that is old news. –  user20412 Mar 12 at 22:00

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