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I noticed that our stainless steel refrigerator door makes a high pitched feedback sound when I touch it.

Investigating further, I found that the previous owner of the home (who left the fridge) removed the grounding prong from the outlet.

I measured the AC voltage between the door and a nearby grounded outlet and found a voltage of 24v. What's happening here, and is it dangerous?

Answers to questions in comments

The door has a dispenser in it. I cannot tell if it is the door or the person making the noise- it seems to originate from the point of contact and is louder when a better "connection" is made (whole hand vs finger)

The 24v I am measuring is AC. Turns out it is 24 when the fridge is running and 3v while holding temp. The rest of the house is grounded, at least I can test an outlet and get voltage difference between hot and ground.

The PO broke the pin off the plug- the socket in the wall is functional.

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  • Is it a plain door, or does it have a dispenser in it? Can imagine the person making a high pitch sound, not a door from touching it.
    – crip659
    Apr 2 at 19:26
  • There could be many different explanations for this. No ground, phantom voltage, bootleg ground or ground and neutral tied somewhere other than the main panel. At 24v (ac or DC?) it is still below the touch threshold for a dry location so it’s not hazardous. Things to investigate is your home still grounded? This may sound like a silly question but years back the only ground was a galvanized water pipe. Over the years the metal may be removed and plastic installed and no one told the owners I have seen this. And other things where the home ground was removed or cut causing similar problems.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 2 at 19:34
  • Did they disconnect the grounding wire from the receptacle, or chop the grounding pin off the *plug? Apr 2 at 21:24
  • One more thing: is the water line to the fridge plastic or metal? Apr 3 at 3:10
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Chop the butchered plug off and replace it with a proper grounding plug

Fortunately, the disfavor that the previous homeowner did you by chopping off the grounding pin is fixable. Simply chop the butchered plug off the cord and replace it with a field-fit type NEMA 5-15 plug, available at any hardware or big-box store. (Strain relief isn't much of an issue here, as how often do you move the fridge, anyway?)

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