A sturdy old washing machine draws more than 20 amps mid-cycle when Rinse starts. Repairman says the brushes on the washer motor are probably a bit worn, so it draws a bit more than 20 amps when starting up while heavy with water in basket.

Local Code now requires GFCI outlet because of water supply nearby. Since the 20 amp breaker still never trips at the panel (I tested this by powering it via extension cord from non-GFCI outlet), it seems like the GFCI is designed to be more "touchy" than the breaker. I replaced the GFCI outlet once, but no joy.

Motors for a 25 year-old machine are hard to come by.

Is it ok to install a 30 amp GFCI outlet on a 20 amp circuit?

Just trying to avoid replacing a reliable analog machine that seems built to outlast me. Thank you.

  • 4
    A GFCI only trips when the magnetic fields created on the hot and neutral aren't the same. If you read the installation instructions included with a GFCI communities.leviton.com/servlet/JiveServlet/previewBody/… 8590 8598 8898.pdf it clearly says "A GFCI does NOT protect from circuit overloads".The problem is your old reliable machine has developed a fault (current leaking to ground). Jun 11, 2020 at 2:21
  • 2
    And no, the NEC doesn't allow 30A receptacles on 20A circuits. Jun 11, 2020 at 2:24

1 Answer 1


Your choices: fix your washer's ground fault or get a new washer (oh, and get a new appliance technician while you're at it)

Your appliance technician clearly hasn't a clue, because the fact your GFCI is tripping and your breaker isn't means your washer has a ground fault, not an overcurrent. So, you can either chase down and fix the ground fault in your current washer, perhaps with the help of an appliance technician who has a clue about GFCIs and how they work, or get a new washer. (My money for a washer this old would be on the insulation on the drum motor windings breaking down after all these years, which means the motor either needs replacing or motor-shop work, but it could be some other sort of problem, such as a slow leak that's been dripping water into electrical parts somewhere.)

  • 5
    Often the motor doesn't need rewinding, it just has water or other conductable worked into the windings, and insulation is starting to fail. Doing a VPI dip may suffice. Easy job for a motor shop. VPI = heat it up, dip it in epoxy, draw a vacuum on the epoxy vat to boil off any water and eliminate air pockets, then apply air pressure to overcome epoxy's surface tension and force it into the voids. Jun 11, 2020 at 3:27

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