Just came from an interesting service call. It was a halfway house for veterans that I have worked at before. They have a number of duplex units built in the 50's, no equipment grounds at any receptacles.
Anyway a resident complained of shocks received off the refrig. When I got there they described the shocks as a snap accompianied by a blue spark. They get them whenever they touch anything metal and also the phone and the thermostat. Well I told them it was static electricity, but I would check the fridge anyway.
Well when the fridge is running, it will light my non contact tester when held close to the cabinet. So I got my analog meter and checked from a part of the fridge that was not painted to the grounded gas line nearby. I got about 13 volts. Remember this fridge has no equipment ground with the old 2 wire system.
So now I am thinking, in addition to the static shocks, they could've gotten a real current shock off the fridge. Is the 13 volts excessive? As soon as the fridge shuts off it goes away. I told them, short of running a new circuit, the only thing to do is get a new fridge. I know if I put in a GFCI it will not hold. I know the code requires refrigerators to be grounded, but if they can't pay for a new circuit, what else is there to do?
You are seeing the real reason refrigerators trip GFCIs. You have a short inside the compressor. If it was grounded it would quietly arc and spark inside the can in a freon bath until it finally quits.
Re: current leakage#61531 01/27/0603:32 AM01/27/0603:32 AM
I've run into "hot fridges" many times. Once you ground the fridge, the casing will no longer be hot. Thanks for the explanation gfretwell....I've always wondered how a compressor can have a short and energize the casing, and yet when you ground it, it not only solves the problem but the breaker doesn't trip.
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