My wife and put our old refrigerator out in the garage years ago (6 or 7) on an outlet that, coincidentally, is on the circuit that is connected to a GFCI in a bathroom (the garage outlet is on the other side of a wall from a bathroom). Everything has been working fine, no problems. The ice maker has been off that entire time.

She recently (about 6 weeks ago) cleaned it out, including vacuuming out the dust from the coils underneath. It has not been humid here in southern PA, and we had cleaned the fridge in the same manner a couple of years ago (2 or 3).

Now, after that cleaning the refrigerator is tripping the GFCI of the circuit it's on although it can take several hours. It can take 10-18 hours for it to happen I can find no pattern.

Steps I've taken:

  • Disconnected the chest freezer that has been sharing that same circuit all these years so ONLY the fridge is on that circuit.
  • Tested the plug for low resistance between the blades of the plug and open between blades and neutral.
  • Inspected the cord for weird kinks or bends, looks pretty normal.
  • Bought a snubber for a few bucks, but no luck.
  • Checked the ice maker. I'm confident that the ice maker is still off because I can find no way to change it either way and it's definitely been off all these years.
  • Turned the temperature to it's default setting (I noticed it was somewhat towards the 'colder' setting but my wife doesn't recall touching it). Also, no difference.
  • This is the only GFCI circuit in the house, but there is no other outlet in the garage that wouldn't involve a long extension cord to get to the refrigerator.

Nothing has changed the behavior. When that refrigerator is unplugged there is no tripping after days, so it's none of the other items on that circuit. There were no nuisance trips until after the cleaning (I'm not a big believer in coincidences, but sometime they do happen?)

Any suggestions on things I can investigate?

Refrigerator manual: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/494568/Kitchenaid-Kscs25qfal00.html

  • An older GFCI receptacle in a bathroom might be starting to act up from moisture. Replacing that receptacle would probably be the easiest(with the breaker turned off).
    – crip659
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 20:50
  • Should have mentioned that the GFCI was installed as part of a bathroom refinish back in 2018 .... So I don't think it's particularly old? Commented May 26, 2023 at 20:59
  • I was kind of surprised when you said the fridge has been working well before with the GFCI. Dedicated fridge circuit are a thing that do not require a GFCI because of problems.
    – crip659
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 21:16
  • My 2020 fridge has been on a GFCI its entire life, no trips. Elderly ones it was a common problem. Seems likely that this one does not have the built-in faults that older ones had, (I think commonly claimed to be from the compressor/motor design?) so it's probably a real fault.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 12:12
  • Believe it or not, this is 1997 KitchenAid, I've edited the question to include a link to the manual. Commented May 27, 2023 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


One thing that happens once or twice a day is the defrost. Try unplugging the defrost heater from the defrost timer (look on the fridge wiring diagram) and see if that fixes it. If it does, you've got a real ground fault in your fridge.

  • 1
    Or depending on wiring setup, unplug the whole defrost timer. Which might be possible on older fridges, but I bet many newer ones that's just part of the computer running the fridge, not a separate unit so the heater may be all you can unplug. ;^)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 23:48
  • Oh yea, it could be a bad timer since this is an older fridge. So that's a good choice too.
    – KMJ
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 5:18
  • Would that be the 'Adaptive Defrost Control' in the manual I linked above (page 4, #6)? Commented May 27, 2023 at 15:27
  • I can't tell for sure without the wiring diagram, but it looks about right. Without seeing the schematic I can't tell you what to unplug though.
    – KMJ
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 8:38

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