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My washer/dryer machine stopped working, and now when whenever I plug it into the GFCI it automatically trips the outlet (both the top and the bottom). I called an electrician in to come fix it and he said it's a problem with the laundry machine and to call an appliance repair guy. I plugged in my iron to both outlets and it didn't trip the GFCI. Any idea what might be causing this on the washer/dryer?

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So, your GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) trips every time you plug in your washer/dryer, but not when you plug in other equipment.

A GFCI detects ground faults, where the power supply line is shorted to ground; it then interrupts the circuit to protect you. Sounds like your washing machine has a ground fault, and your GFCI detects this and then trips. (This is a feature, not a bug.)

There's lots of things this could be: a failed motor, a wire with worn-through insulation, a circuit board failure, etc. etc. etc. Figuring out which would take a lot more information, but an initial test would be to measure the resistance between ground and the hot or neutral plug terminals. If you measure the resistance as anything other than infinite, you've confirmed your problem.

  • OK, I have an update: – Qotsa42 Dec 15 '16 at 16:09
  • OK, I have an update. The laundry machine works perfectly when plugged into an extension cord into another outlet, so I think that the issue is with the outlet rather than the laundry machine. Thoughts? – Qotsa42 Dec 15 '16 at 16:11
  • If the other outlet is NOT a GFCI, then yes, it's the outlet telling you that there's a problem with your washer. – Daniel Griscom Dec 15 '16 at 18:46
  • The washer/dryer, when plugged into the extension cord, works in both other GFCI outlets and non-GFCI outlets. – Qotsa42 Dec 15 '16 at 19:03
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Why is it tripping your GFCI? Because it's faulty.

Specifically, it manifests a ground fault. The current that comes in the hot wire is supposed to all go out its neutral wire. But what's happening instead is some of that is leaking into the chassis of the device and going back via the ground wire. (Or even worse, it's leaking out through a water line, or the floor, or dryer vent.)

This could kill you. Get the appliance serviced. Specifically, have an electrical leak test performed.

  • OK, I have an update. The laundry machine works perfectly when plugged into an extension cord into another outlet, so I think that the issue is with the outlet rather than the laundry machine. Thoughts? – Qotsa42 Dec 15 '16 at 16:11
  • Does that 'another outlet' have gfci protection? – Billy C. Dec 15 '16 at 16:23
  • Should have specified -- nope. Washer works when plugged into a non-GFCI outlet. – Qotsa42 Dec 15 '16 at 18:51
  • You are describing, precisely, a defective washer. If your fire alarm is going off you don't solve the problem by pulling it off the ceiling and taking it outside where the smoke can't get to it do you? – Billy C. Dec 15 '16 at 18:56
  • If you want to prove me wrong, why don't you run that extension cord all the way to another GFCI outlet in your house. If you can tell me that a different GFCI does not trip then I can entertain the notion that the GFCI in your laundry room is bad. But that is exceptionally unlikely. – Billy C. Dec 15 '16 at 18:59
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If I were you, I'd go to your local home improvement store and buy an outlet tester with a button for testing GFCIs. Plug it in.

  1. If it lights, make sure it's showing proper wiring (there's a legend on top). If the wiring shows correct proceed to Step 2. If it just trips, the GFCI is bad. Replace it.
  2. Click the button on your tester. Does the GFCI trip when you click? Go to step 3. If not, it's probably gone bad. I would replace it.
  3. At this point, it looks like the GFCI is probably not the problem. I would get a service man out to check the washer. Because you've done your homework, you can make sure the service man doesn't just wash his hands of it by blaming the GFCI.
  • OK, I have an update. The laundry machine works perfectly when plugged into an extension cord into another outlet, so I think that the issue is with the outlet rather than the laundry machine. Thoughts? – Qotsa42 Dec 15 '16 at 16:11
  • Replace the GFCI. It's not expensive (they're about $20 at your local hardware store). – Machavity Dec 15 '16 at 16:14
  • @Qotsa42: Does that 'another outlet' have GFCI protection? Use an Amp Clamp around that extension cord while the appliance is in use. If it does not read 0 amps, then there is a fault in the appliance and it IS leaking current. – Billy C. Dec 15 '16 at 17:26

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