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I'm wrapping up a whole kitchen remodel, including redoing most of the kitchen electrical. Today we installed the fridge in its new location and plugged it into its new outlet, but 15 minutes later it started tripping the GFCI (and again another 15 min later, etc..). Oh boy..

The fridge is on a circuit that first serves some kitchen countertop outlets upstream of the fridge. The first of those outlets has a GFCI with the breaker side connected to "line" and the rest of the circuit downstream connected to the "load" side. This is the GFCI that keeps tripping. It's also a relatively new GFCI so I doubt it's faulty.

I realized now that it's not uncommon for fridges to trip GFCIs, but it's too late for me to run another circuit to the fridge (or make the fridge earlier on the circuit, or tap into another non-GFCI circuit, etc..) without having to do a ton of work ripping open walls and removing cabinets. I also realize that I can't pass the final trim inspection without having the kitchen outlets be GFCI'd.

My plan is to change the first GFCI on that circuit so that it only covers that outlet itself but nothing downstream. That is, leave the "load" side empty, and just do a regular splice in the box to energize the rest of the circuit. Then add another GFCI to the next kitchen counter outlet and do the same thing there. That way, the fridge is not GFCI protected but both countertop outlets are. If there are other outlets downstream of the fridge, I'll add a GFCI to the first of those and connect the rest of the circuit to its load terminals. In summary, I'd GFCI all the individual outlets rather than the rest of the downstream circuit.

This will cost me another $20-50 for additional GFCIs, but at least I don't have to rip walls open and reroute circuits.

My questions are:

  1. Is this a good plan in general? Anything major, I'm missing? Any easier way to solve this problem?

  2. Is it a code violation for the fridge outlet to not be GFCI'd, given it's within 6' of a sink? Does that really matter since the fridge outlet is actually not accessible during normal use (the outlet is entirely covered by the fridge and is inaccessible without first taking out the fridge)? Any chance an inspector would call this out?

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    Read the instructions for the GFCI and. you'll see you don't need to pigtail, there's a way to attach 2 wires to each GFCI terminal. Mar 10, 2023 at 7:57
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    Major tip (if you ever do this again): put the fridge on its own circuit. Only has to be 15A and saves you all these headaches in sharing a circuit.
    – Machavity
    Mar 10, 2023 at 17:26
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    Also, if you use a single outlet rather than a duplex outlet for the refrigerator, nothing else can be plugged into that outlet while the refrigerator is plugged in.
    – Armand
    Mar 10, 2023 at 18:34
  • I believe NEC requires a separate circuit for a fridge.
    – Michael D
    Mar 10, 2023 at 22:40

1 Answer 1

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Kitchen outlets are only required to be GFCI when they serve the countertop

NEC 210.8(A) point 6 only requires GFCI protection for receptacles that serve the kitchen countertops:

(6) Kitchens — where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces

So, you're fine Code-wise with not providing GFCI to the fridge.

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    But does the fact that a sink is in a kitchen mean that 210.8(A)(7) does not apply? OP states "given it's within 6' of a sink". My understanding is "in a kitchen if it serves the countertop, even if > 6' from a sink" (makes sense because lots of stuff on a kitchen countertop gets wet during food prep.) + "in a kitchen/bathroom/etc. if it is < 6' from a sink" (which shouldn't matter what type of sink or what room it is in) Mar 10, 2023 at 4:31
  • I mean NEC 210.8(A)(7) pretty clearly says receps within 6' of a sink should be GFCI. I assume that's due to splash potential (maybe something goes wrong with the sprayer or there's a fountain caused by a faucet issue).
    – Huesmann
    Mar 10, 2023 at 15:34
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    diy.stackexchange.com/questions/248420/…. Disagreements there indicate - talk to local code compliance
    – Tiger Guy
    Mar 10, 2023 at 20:29
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    I would suggest you talk to the person that is going to approve it, the inspector and see what that person tells you. Mine told me I could use a duplex. It is on its own circuit and behind the refrigerator.
    – Gil
    Mar 10, 2023 at 23:55
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    Q: is the outlet the fridge is plugged into behind the fridge, or does the cord come out from behind and get plugged into a visible outlet?
    – Huesmann
    Mar 11, 2023 at 14:09

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