In my garage I have two wall receptacles on opposite sides of the garage. On one side the receptacle is a GFCI receptacle and the other side is a normal one. In the normal receptacle I have a small deep freeze, and a refrigerator plugged in. A couple of times a day I go out and neither the refrigerator nor the freezer are working, and the GFCI receptacle on the other wall is tripped.

Any suggestions on what I can do to fix this?


The below steps describe how to disable a safety feature by removing GFCI protection from your circuit. Check with local codes and verify that the problem isn't simply a bad GFCI or malfunctioning appliance before considering following these steps.

It sounds like your normal outlet is wired to the GFCI, making it a protected outlet.

Turn the power off, and remove the GFCI. You should see Black and White wires connected to the "LINE" Terminals, and another pair Connected to the "LOAD" Terminals. Devices with motors can trip GFCI outlets due to inductive loads at start up or shutdown.

Get yourself some spare wire. If you don't have any, buy a foot of 14/2 household wire from the local Orange or Blue Big Box Store. Also pick up some wire nuts rated for 3 14 ga wires.

You'll need to cut 4-6 inch white and black "jumper" wires and strip the ends.

Disconnect all wires from the GFCI, and screw in the LOAD screws all the way. I like to tape them off with electrical tape.

Now take each jumper wire and attach one end to the LINE Terminals, matching white to white and black to black. (Brass screw is black, Metal screw is white. Green screw is ground (green or bare).

Now wire the three white wires together with a wire nut. Similarly, wire the blacks. These are called Pigtails.

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Wire the two remaining ground wires to the ground (green) screw on the GFCI.

Stuff the wires in and re-mount the outlet.

You've just unprotected the fridge and freezer. However, I'd put a label on the unprotected box "NOT GFCI" so that a future owner doesn't make any assumptions.

EDIT: There may be a code requirement to have all garage circuits GFCI protected. Check with your local authority before doing this.

NEC 2008

210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel.
(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in (1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

(2) Garages, and also accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use.

  • 1
    Gaaa you beat me by like 10seconds! The only thing I'd add to this is that motor loads are known for causing nuisance tripping of GFCI's so its better to not put these on GFCI's.
    – Steven
    Apr 9 '13 at 19:33
  • 1
    This is an unsafe answer. GFCI protection may be required, and should not be disabled.
    – Tester101
    Apr 9 '13 at 19:52

A GFCI outlet works by measuring the magic electrons in and out on the hot and neutral legs and if they are different by a certain amount, trips the circuit to stop electricity from flowing, on the principle that those electrons are going somewhere bad (your body, perhaps).

If the normal outlet is connected to the LOAD side of the GFCI (which it sounds like it is due to your problem statement), then your problem domain is the GFCI outlet, the cabling from the GFCI to the normal outlet, the normal outlet, and the freezer and refrigerator. As a first step, try unplugging the freezer and the refrigerator to see what happens without them plugged in.

However, more than likely, the compressor motors on one or the other are at fault, and in general terms, these devices should not be on GFCIs.

  • Ok thanks I was not 100% on that and I bet you are right as when only one at a time is on it runs no problem so it probably trips when they both kick on at close to the same time.
    – twreid
    Apr 9 '13 at 19:44
  • Is there a way to test electron levels with a tool, quantifying this seems useful. This is happening to me for an outdoor waste pump system. Curious what the current level is compared to a safe level and relative to the various G, S, or T GFCI limits.
    – user289394
    Feb 6 '19 at 5:35

There are different types of GFCI, you may have one that is too sensitive for the job.

A G type will trip immediately however a S or T will delay tripping and allow the current to stabilize during a surge like starting an induction motor.


I think the best thing to do would be to install a separate circuit which serves only the freezer. Having its own circuit will reduce that odds of it being tripped. You could also try replacing the GFCI outlet with a regular outlet and then using a GFCI breaker, and see if that arrangement is better behaved.

Note: Tester101 says this exemption no longer exists, and I'd take his word over mine. I'll leave this here in case anyone wants to verify for themselves (by contacting your local electrical inspector). Plus, it's good to know that it no longer applies:

This site is the only thing I'm finding right now that had the exemption language I was thinking of:

  • Refrigerators and freezers that are permanently located in the garage and are not movable are not required to be protected by GFI.
  • The outlet may be a single outlet or the outlet may not be readily accessible.

NEC 2005 contained this exception to 210.8(A)(2)

Exception No.2 to (2): A single receptacle or a duplex receptacle for two appliances located within dedicated space for each appliance that, in normal use, is not easily moved from one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connected in accordance with 400.7(A)(6), (A)(7), or (A)(8).

This exception was removed in the 2008 version of the National Electrical Code.

  • Ok thank you very much for the additional information.
    – twreid
    Apr 10 '13 at 13:13
  • 1
    This exception no longer exists.
    – Tester101
    Apr 10 '13 at 21:06
  • 1
    Hope you don't mind, I edited in the actual verbiage from NEC.
    – Tester101
    Apr 12 '13 at 12:12

I read many posts about a refrigerator tripping a GFCI outlet. Mine is a GFCI circuit breaker for everything in the garage. Posts talked about an RC Snubber but I could not find details or where to buy one. I took a stab. I used a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter on the refrigerator plug (thus removed the ground at the plug). For about $1, the refrigerator is now working fine and not tripping the breaker.

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  • 2
    More like the refrigerator was leaking current onto its chassis and now has a live chassis WRT mains earth since you floated it... Nov 29 at 1:33

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