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In my current (pre-existing setup) the fridge is on a dedicated 20A circuit. But while it runs through the basement it has a dedicated outlet that is used by the condensate drain pump for the water heater. The 20A circuit is a normal breaker (no GFCI/AFCI).

This is pre-existing and I am curious if it is OK. Regardless of code, this is a good setup because there are just appliances which should always be on and cause lots of harm if not: The fridge and the drain pump. Having one circuit makes it easier to ensure if is always turned on. No GFCI/AFCI means no spurious trips which could cause damage but they don't include "conventional purpose outlets". And finally, 20A is sufficient for the fridge and the (small) pump.

I think fridge on dedicated circuit is not a requirement but recommended, so it is OK that the pump is on the fridge circuit?

I am not sure about the GFCI requirement. Technically, since the pump is plugged into an outlet in the basement, it would require GFCI. However, due to the importance of the pump, an GFCI is really not a good idea. The outlet for the pump is a dedicated one.

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  • NFPA 70 says GFCI is required: "210.8(A)(6) Kitchens - where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces" - I presume your fridge outlet is not where it would also serve a countertop surface.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 12, 2023 at 14:52
  • @JonCuster the countertop reequirement was likely the Code when the kitchen circits were installed, but in the current edition of the NEC the section you reference now just reads "Kitchens". Dec 12, 2023 at 15:03
  • @NoSparksPlease - fair enough, I quoted from the 2020 code. Looks like I need to update. Does the 2023 code have some exemption for refrigerators, notorious for tripping GFCIs?
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 12, 2023 at 16:01
  • @JonCuster No exception for fridge, I just veriffied at nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/7/0/70?l=110 Dec 12, 2023 at 16:18
  • @NoSparksPlease - thanks, I've ordered the 2023 code book.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 12, 2023 at 16:30

1 Answer 1

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The probability of the fridge and a small condensate pump causing a circuit breaker to trip due to overload is very low.

The NEC has for at least 30 years has required kitchen area receptacle circuits serve only kitchen area receptacles, we don't know when your kitchen circuits were installed or modified and what the code said at that time, but that setup is probably illegal.

The code requirements for GFCI (and AFCI) seem to change some with every code cycle. In the past fridges often slipped past GFCI requirements for kitchen countertops and the 6' from a sink rule, but currently the requirement that covers GFCI protection in kitchens has no exception for fridges.

As to good setup or not, generally this forum sticks to advising what the Code allows or requires. Opinions are like..., everybodies got one.

Generally it seems the NFPA panels that consider code changes seem to favor protection against loss of life over financial cost of installation or unexpected circuit failure. Some local authorties having jurisdiction when adopting the NEC into law only make ammendments to clarify local interpretation of the code. Others wade into thinking the code goes too far and do things like write exceptions for fridges.

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  • 2
    Opinions are like elbows, everybody's got two! ;)
    – FreeMan
    Dec 12, 2023 at 15:47
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    @FreeMan My struggle with accepting that the NFPA has more data than me, and my struugle against excessive regulation creates at least two. Maybe opinions are like fingers... Dec 12, 2023 at 16:23
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    Fair points. Opinions are numerous and usually changing...
    – FreeMan
    Dec 12, 2023 at 16:38
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    @NoSparksPlease -- now that I read it closer, you're right :) sorry for the slightly violent agreement Dec 13, 2023 at 1:07

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