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I have a clothes washer which came with a gfci adapter. The cord didn't quite reach the nearest outlet, so we had the washer plugged into a (grounded) 3-outlet interior extension cord, then to the GFCI adapter, then to a normal outlet.

I recently had an electrician come out to install an outlet nearer to the washer. When we plug the washer directly into this new GFCI outlet, it trips sometime during the prewash cycle. When we plug the washer into its GFCI adapter, and then into the new GFCI outlet, the new outlet trips. When we plug the washer into the extension cord then directly into the new GFCI outlet, the outlet trips. I tried replacing the extension cord with a different one. I tried eliminating the extension cord (not a viable long term solution).

When I plug my heavy duty blender or vacuum cleaner into the new outlet and turn them on high, the outlet does not trip.

The result is always the same: old outlet + washer works, new outlet + washer trips, new outlet + something else works.

The electrician asserts there's nothing wrong with the outlet, that something must be wrong with the washer. It's clear to me that it's some combination. What could be causing this?

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    Go to your local home improvement store and buy a GFCI outlet tester. They're cheap and quick to tell you if the GFCI outlet is installed correctly. – rjbergen Nov 8 '14 at 6:58
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    The test button on a GFI receptacle is the only accurate way to test them. – Speedy Petey Nov 8 '14 at 12:38
  • Did the original GFCI trip, or does only the new GFCI trip? You said the original GFCI came with the washer, is that correct? – Tester101 Nov 8 '14 at 13:13
  • GFCI tester says the outlet is wired correctly. Test/reset work via the tester and directly via the outlet. The original GFCI came as an adapter: plugs into a standard outlet, washer plugs into it. – Timbo Nov 9 '14 at 2:34
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    I have found a couple mentions of inductive load spikes causing trouble with some GFCI outlets. – Timbo Nov 11 '14 at 0:50
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This happened to me: Modern HE front loading washers draw a large inrush current in the pre-wash cycle as they hit peak torque when starting to spin a full and slightly wet load of clothes clumped at the bottom.

This can and does fake out certain brands of GFCI outlet, and is a well-known problem. Because the problem isn't related to wattage, but to inrush current, high wattage resistive devices like hair dryers or small motors spinning quickly like vacuum cleaners don't trigger it.

Historically, GFCI outlets were not required or installed in laundry rooms, but in 2005 or 2007, the code changed, and they were judged to be 'wet' locations, and thus to require GFCI protection.

My solution was to replace the GFCI outlet with a non-GFCI outlet, and the washer has been working perfectly for 3 1/2 years. But you may be able to find a less sensitive GFCI outlet, or just put a normal outlet in there and use your GFCI adapter.

  • Yep, I ended up replacing the GFCI outlet with a normal outlet and using the supplied adapter. – Timbo Sep 18 '15 at 17:42
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So you are saying the GFI trips, and the adapter trips? It is clear then that there IS an intermittent problem with the washer. This is why both the GFI adapter and the GFI receptacle are tripping. Have the washer checked out by an appliance repair place.

Is the GFI even required? Is there a laundry sink in the room? Is this part of a bathroom?

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    I was mistaken when I said the adapter trips when plugged into the new outlet (edited to fix). The outlet itself trips, which turns off the light on the adapter. The adapter came with the washer and has stern warnings that the washer itself does not have fault protection. There is a utility sink within 4 feet of the old outlet and within 6 feet of the new outlet. – Timbo Nov 9 '14 at 2:42

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