Using GFCI Outlets with Appliances

Don’t do it. It’s unnecessary, it’s not required by the National Electrical Code (NEC), and will likely cause nuisance trips (killing the circuit when there’s nothing wrong), especially on older appliances. The NEC does not require GFCI on permanent appliances such as disposals, dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc., as long as they are not installed outdoors and a few other conditions[1]. Replacing the GFCI with a standard outlet, will solve the problem of nuisance tripping, but what if it does have a ground fault?

A properly grounded 3 prong outlet provides protection for both people and the appliance if a short circuit develops between a live wire and the cabinet. If you want more details, here are some good links for further reading:

A short explanation of how GFCIs work

A more detailed explanation and the causes for nuisance tripping

[1] The National Electric Code [NEC] 2008 (as of January 1, 2008) states that all garage and outlets in unfinished basements must be GFCI protected. That includes appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and sump pumps. Previous codes allowed single receptacles to be used for these appliances, thus avoiding the need for GFCI’s.


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