Should a garbage disposal be on a GFCI?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Erico, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

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    Location:
    Maryland
    If the GFI is tripping there is a problem with the appliance. Spoiled food may be an inconvenience, but a lost life is worse. The GFI is for life safety. What is worth more, the life of a loved one or a roast?

    The UL allowable leakage current is 1/10th of the tripping level of a GFI.
  2. mtcummins

    mtcummins In the Trades

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    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    Jim, do you advocate GFIs on a refrigerator circuit? I've never heard any other qualified electrician say this, in fact almost every one that I've worked with has said exactly the opposite, that you should never GFI that circuit. Why is this a safety issue? When is there a risk requiring one behind the fridge?

    I hear you guys saying that in theory properly functioning appliances shouldn't trip GFIs, but as a general contractor, I also know that I will rarely choose to plug my high amp tools into GFIs if I have another option. All too often, the things trip for no reason, and its not like one tool always trips it, its totally random. My brand new and my very old tools alike will randomly trip a GFI sometimes, and be fine most other times... and I only buy high quality tools... are you telling me that a large number of my professional quality tools are malfunctioning on a regular basis?

    I generally run one circuit for D/W and G/D and no GFI on it. I run a dedicated non-GFI for fridge. I GFI ALL counter outlets on 2 or more circuits, even if not required, this just seems smart to be safe. Though I never do it, I don't have a problem with using a GFI on a disposer - worst case is you have to reach under the sink and push a button every once in a while. You probably won't, but its no big deal if it happens. I'd remove a GFI if someone put it on a fridge or freezer circuit, its just asking for it.
  3. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    As an electrical contractor of over 40 years I stand on the platform and shout at the top of my lungs that every refrigerator should be protected by GFCI as well as any other appliance that my wife and children will be coming in contact with including every freeze in the house. The food inside can be replaced but my family cannot.

    It is called ground fault
    Never but that don’t mean that the device shouldn’t be protected by one. If it is behind the frig then it won’t get tested

    the law requires that any receptacle that is being used for temporary power during construction be GFCI protected

    This is exactly what is being said. If a GFCI device trips it is because there was a fault somewhere between the appliance and the power source.

    You have this backwards, if there is no GFCI protection then one is asking for it
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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    I think a problem that is overlooked is that there are many GFCI outlets that trip for no reason due to a problem with the manufacture of the outlet. I have found that certain brands of outlets are prone to tripping, while others do not. Maybe another case of "you get what you pay for".
  5. mtcummins

    mtcummins In the Trades

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    380
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    hmm, maybe i'll install a ground rod on every outlet, just in case all of the 3 grounds from my panel fail simultaneously. that would be safer, right? i could then tie all of the grounds together onto a central detection system that would trip the main if it detects any leak to the ground on any outlet, and alerts the fire department that someone tried to turn on a fridge that wasn't GFI protected... you can never be too safe, right?

    while i'm at it, i'll install a sprinkler system in a residence, and arc faults on every circuit (oh wait, the code monkeys have already pushed that idiocracy through...), and locked gates at the top and bottom of my staircases. someone on here had a great idea about a net that would pop out and catch you if you fall on stairs, kind of like an airbag in a car... we could do some of that. you know, i've always thought that doors swinging was a hazard to my family, so I'm going to require them to all be garage door style, with all the sensors to be sure nobody gets crushed or hit with a swinging door.

    shower curtains pose a big asphyxiation hazard, and glass doors can break especially when someone slips in that very dangerously slippery tub and runs into it, so i think the best bet would be to require everyone to waterproof their entire bathrooms so that you can have door/curtainless showers. there should be required harnesses installed in every shower, ensuring that you remain upright at all times while lathering up. the faucet should detect that the harness is being used before it will turn on, and immediately cut out if its taken off.

    then there's windows higher than 18" off the ground. they really shouldn't be passable by a human being unless the house is on fire, so maybe they should have automated metal bars on them that only pop open when the new sprinkler system goes off.

    then there's all those drowning hazards of items that hold water... tubs, sinks, etc. what they really need is some kind of pressure sensor or something that would know if there was a person in danger of drowning, which would automatically open the drain. to be sure, there should also be a pump installed in the drain to be sure to get that water out immediately (ground/arc/fusion/nuclear/etc protected of course)

    when will it stop? this obsession with requiring more and more crap for supposed safety has gotten ridiculous. the only thing that this kind of regulation is going to do is protect the rich, while the middle and lower classes are forced to not buy or renovate houses b/c its too expensive to bring things up to code. new construction and remodeled houses that could have been brought up to a good, safe level, will remain old houses with nightmare death traps of electrical systems, etc b/c every outlet now costs $15 and the majority can't afford to do any repairs.

    on a more serious note, if there is such an immanent danger in this refrigerator, it should have its own protection suited directly to that appliance. why rely on the outlet, just build it right into the fridge so that it doesn't matter what outlet you plug it into.
  6. mtcummins

    mtcummins In the Trades

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    Location:
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    so we're protecting against a risk that never happens? sounds reasonable to me...

    this is because those temporary construction outlets are almost always in an exterior condition, where a GFI is rightly required.

    yep, that would be right between those 2, inside the GFCI more often than not
  7. mtcummins

    mtcummins In the Trades

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    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    What brands do you like/dislike? If this is all there is to the constant problems I have with GFIs, I'll have a little dance party in celebration of the discovery (wearing elbow and knee pads and a helmet for safety, of course)
  8. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

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    Seattle. WA
    If only it were so simple as choosing a "reliable" brand. There is a massive influx of counterfeit electrical equipment coming into this country from you-know-where,
    so that going by brand marks is no guarantee of not getting some shoddy imitation.
  9. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    988
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    No, not at all. Ground rods have NOTHING to do with clearing faults.
  10. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    Location:
    North Carolina
    If it never happened then why are so many crying about how one trips. It is a fact that a GFCI device will not open unless there is between 4 to 6 milliamps of fault current which is about the let go threshold of most people
    This shows the limited knowledge you have of construction sites. There are many sites that have their panels located on the inside and those receptacle that serve receptacles for construction no matter how small the job are required to be GFCI protected. Even in an industrial setting receptacles used by maintenance men are required to be GFCI protected.
    Yes it is the workings inside the GFCI that opens the circuit but it will not open the circuit unless it detects between 4 to 6 milliamps of current that is faulting. This could be in the cord supplying the equipment or even the equipment itself.
    There was an article printed in EMC about a year ago where an inspector stepped on a drop cord installed by some expert jackleg that had bypassed the GFCI device and the cord exploded under the foot of the inspector. Needless to say the power was turned off on that job site until the problem was solved.

    It is those with limited or no knowledge of GFCI devices that do the most crying and try to circumvent their use no matter what the dangers are. If a GFCI device trips it is because it detected a fault current and opened. Those who know just a little know it is now time to figure out why it open and not start trying to blame the device. After all it did just what it was designed to do, protect people.
  11. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Maryland
    If refrigerators on GFIs was such an issue I would have thought we would have seen something on the news about restaurants constantly loosing food due to spoilage from tripped GFIs. Cost is the reason you do not see more GFI protection installed where it is not code mandated. Builders don't want to pay the cost of the subs work now so there is no way that they would be willing to loose another $20 for a GFI that was not required.
  12. mtcummins

    mtcummins In the Trades

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    380
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    My issue is not with cost... I have about a dozen GFCIs in my house, a lot of which are protecting more outlets. I think they are a good thing, in the right places. I think that behind the fridge is a wrong place. I would remove the $20 outlet if it was there and replace it.

    Code is written for the most common or the lowest common denominator. The most normal situation requiring temporary power setups is an unfinished, or not even started, property. There is a large percentage of times that temporary power, even if mounted inside the building, is operating in an exterior condition. Code doesn't usually make exceptions for things like this (that you don't need GFCI if its in a finished space), as it would just open up loopholes and isn't the common situation. I'm in agreement that temporary power setups should usually be GFCI. Besides, if most of the time they'd be required, contractors aren't going to have both setups on hand for the few times that its not required, so there's no need for a provision to allow that.

    My workshop with all it's high draw tools will not be GFI protected. If that makes me unsafe, then so be it, I guess I'm a risk taker (you know, all of that using a tool for what its made for business...)

    I'm having a really hard time believing that those of you who are so adamant about GFCI use really believe that they always trip for good reasons. You must have the most robust GFCIs ever, have never made a service call to a house with normal GFCIs, or only plug in lamps and clock radios. They're overly cautious, which is fine for appropriate locations, such as outside, countertops in kitchens and baths, laundry, etc. I appreciate the protection they offer, and put up with the annoyances there. I don't appreciate the inconvenience of pulling my fridge out to push a button b/c the stupid thing tripped, even if i managed to catch it w/o losing any food.

    if there's one thing we should believe, its that the code gurus would have required it long ago if they thought it was a significant risk. we're in the era of all arc-fault breakers now... you know, for all those times that people jam a dresser against the hairdryer cord on the bathroom sink outlet and cause an arc...

    if you guys want to put them on your own fridges, go for it. i hate to hear that you're doing that to your clients.
  13. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Maryland
    Under the 08 or 11 NEC the GFI must be readily accessible so it cannot be behind the refrigerator.
  14. mtcummins

    mtcummins In the Trades

    Messages:
    380
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    oh, ok... i didn't know that code requirement. thanks for the info.

    so, i always put a refrigerator on a dedicated line. this would require a GFCI breaker, unless you want a fridge cord coming up to a counter outlet or something like that? wow, thats even more inconvenient.
  15. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    By law anyone using power to do work such as kitchen or bath remodels require GFCI protection. Should you have employees and are not providing GFCI protection for your power tools you are in violation of the law.
    If a GFCI device trips it is an indication that there is something wrong plain and simple. All this hog wash about them just tripping is nothing but hog wash. They trip for a reason.
    I have in the past and will continue to do so in the future install GFCI devices where they are required including my work shop where I have high draw tools that I use continually.
    What I don’t understand is where all this tripping occurs. I don’t seem to have these problems but then again I keep my equipment including cords in tip top shape and throw away any that are worn and frayed. I have two freezers one chest type and the other a stand up and neither has tripped a GFCI device in the 16 years that I have lived here. Just where does all this tripping take place?
  16. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

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    Location:
    northfork, california
    Now here is a guy that agrees with my rants about the overseas garbage. And its okay to say China or Asia: have we become so weak as to be afraid to identify our upcoming saboteurs? 'Electricity and death' stickie should address that. Those 7$ GFCI at the hardware store sale have can be over sensitive, under sensitive, or not work at all.

    If the Asians can add MELAMINE to their milk and deprive thousands of infants of their kidneys, imagine the ease of making a 29 cent non-functional GFCI with a fake UL label on it. They check containers at the dock for nuclear weapons, not electrical outlets function.

    How many people were killed by their refrigerators last year? Someone get the data please. Want to appreciate my point - try out a cheap GFCI and then go to vacation for a month, and come home to a 25 cubic foot box of mouldy vomit.

    I used hospital grade GFCI's in my house, and still cheaper than Mexican arc fault jokes. Edit: just searched for an hour and NO US made gfci's anymore. I paid 18 bucks for US hospital or commercial grade gfci's a few years, now they are Chinese for $64 - fair & smart for our country, eh? http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/LEVITON-GFCI-Receptacle-1PLU3?Pid=search

    Better rate ceiling boxes to hold no more than 50 pounds with special break-away screws, lest someone try and hang himself after finding his freezer at room temperature for a week.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  17. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    988
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    I fully agree on things like this as well. I have replaced more junk Chinese GFI's than I can to remember.




    WHY? Regular brand name GFI's are just as good in a residential setting.
    And also, what to GFI's have to do with AFCI's? Completely different animal.
  18. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    At that time, they were US made. See my last post on edit. No more. Imagine the profit in selling us 40 to 60$ gfci's that are counterfeit - easier than importing heroin and essentially no penalties to face.

    I see a lot of false trips in the AFCI's. And nothing more than greed caused the MFGR. to move overseas or across borders. That 4 cent extra profit makes a lot of money for them, until enough empty factories in America cause most of us to live in shopping carts and old buicks.

    I see many favorite products on the shelf for MORE money, now made in Asia, than when they were made in the USA. Figure that. The day I see a chinese Estwing hammer, is the day America died.
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