I am looking at purchasing a home in Florida, built in 2005.

Our home inspector was not the smartest cookie in the jar, but accidently discovered some strange things. So far, this is what I have figured out:

All of the kitchen outlets and exterior outlets are wired into one GFI circuit, and the reset is the actual refrigerator outlet, located, of course, behind the refrigerator.

First, is there a code requirement that could help me have the seller fix this problem? I am thinking that there are probably 8 outlets wired together, and one of the has the fridge load. Seems like a pretty high number?

Second, what is the simplest way to rewire this? I don't know which side of the fridge is load, but in this case am assuming it is in line since is it located between the kitchen outlets and the exterior outlets. If I can find the outlet directly upstream, and the next one downstream, can I rewire to put GFI protection on either side of the fridge but remove it from the fridge itself?

Thank you

  • If you haven't already purchased it, have the seller wire a dedicated line for the fridge as a condition. Once you buy it, all your leverage of walking away from the sale is gone.
    – BMitch
    Feb 5 '12 at 13:42

Find the next outlet downstream from the GFCI behind the refrigerator. Then (with the power off) swap the receptacle devices between those boxes, taking care to be sure the GFCI now in the "2nd box on the circuit" is correctly wired. The refrigerator will NOT be GFCI protected this way.

You can find which outlets are downstream of the refrigerator outlet simply by test tripping that GFCI. This won't tell you which is the next one, but it most likely is the closest one. Once you have the GFCI in the new box, test it to be sure it does shut off the others on the same circuit. There should be two circuits with GFCI. Test the other one for correct operation, too. With both GFCIs tripped, every kitchen outlet should be off, except the dedicated one.

You should have the refrigerator (and other heavy load devices like a microwave oven) on dedicated circuits (this is the point to negotiate with the seller). The refrigerator can share with a freezer (as long as it is not in a garage). They do not need to be on GFCI unless the kitchen has a wet material floor (like concrete, or in a garage).


The refrigerator needs to be on it's own circuit. Refrigerators should not be on a GFCI! Imagine, tripping the GFCI breaker and not knowing the fridge is on it until a day or two latter! The dish washer, outlets, lighting, etc. all need to be on their own separate circuits.

EDIT: I have not seen any code that says you can not use a GFCI for a refrigerator, nor have I found code to say you don't need to. What I know is I have not seen a GFCI used for fridges in my area, including my own home (built 2005). Is this s a local code? I don't know. Anyone doing this, like all electrical work, needs to check local codes as well as NEC codes.

  • Do you mean that a fridge should not be on a shared GFCI? Whether or not it requires a GFCI depends on distance to the sink if I'm not mistaken.
    – Steven
    Feb 4 '12 at 22:44
  • The fridge needs to be on its own circuit. Whether it is on a GFCI or not is another issue. I don't see code saying that you can not use it on a GFCI, however it is usually not done in a kitchen, unless perhaps it is a basement kitchen with concrete floors? If you use a GFCI on the fridge, you run the risk of a nuisance trip that may not be discovered until days latter, spoiling the food.
    – SteveR
    Feb 5 '12 at 13:04
  • @Steven - Yes, outlets would be required a GFCI within the kitchen. Think about it, the dishwasher is right next to the sink and its on its own circuit not GFCI protected! Why should the fridge need a GFCI?
    – SteveR
    Feb 5 '12 at 13:08
  • Dedicated single use circuits in kitchens do not require a GFIC by NEC. The Fridge falls into this category and should be on it's own circuit, also lighting. Feb 5 '12 at 13:38
  • I agree with shirlock homes. It is the kitchen convenience outlets (on counter tops, islands, etc) that require GFCI (and are also subject to the minimum of two 20 amp circuits).
    – Skaperen
    Feb 5 '12 at 14:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.