Is your refrigerator tripping a breaker or GFCI receptacle?

When a circuit trips, it indicates that something is abnormal and possibly unsafe. It’s not uncommon for a refrigerator to cause a circuit to trip, especially a sensitive GFCI circuit. This is most often caused by the refrigerator pulling to many amps and overloading the circuit. There a a few steps to troubleshoot whether the cause is the receptacle (outlet), breaker or appliance causing the receptacle or circuit breaker to trip.

The garage refrigerator didn’t trip in my old house/another location…

A GFCI is required in a garage (see below for more info) and is more sensitive than a standard circuit. If the refrigerator trips the GFCI circuit in the garage but not a standard circuit, this could be a sign of malfunctioning components in the refrigerator such as a defective capacitor, compressor, defroster heater or fan in the fridge. You should also check the condition of any wires/power cords for damage. Please see the additional resources at the bottom of this article.

We often hear from homeowners that the refrigerator repair tech said it was a bad outlet/breaker…
Do your due diligence and troubleshoot using a process of elimination.
If the refrigerator trips multiple GFCI breakers, it’s the refrigerator.

What is a GFCI receptacle/breaker and why do I have to have one?

GFCI (Ground-fault circuit interrupters) receptacles protect all outlets on the same circuit, as well as connected tools and appliances. GFCIs protect against electrical shocks from ground faults. The National Electrical Code requires GFCI receptacles in bathrooms, garages, crawl spaces, basements, laundry rooms and areas where a water source is present. Ground faults can be caused by:

  • Operating equipment in wet or damp areas. Moisture detected.
  • Running faulty or leaking tools and appliances
  • Using damaged cords, power strips or wiring

Please see our post about Tripping Breakers for more information on GFCIs and how they work.


  1. Reset receptacle/breaker
    • Locate all receptacles not working when the breaker trips. Unplug everything from that circuit.
      • It’s common for the garage receptacles and the receptacles on the exterior of the house (porches, near A/C, sprinkler) to be on the same 15amp GFCI breaker.
    • Reset the breaker by flipping the handle ALL the way off then on again.
    • Reset the GFCI on the circuit by pushing the RESET button on the receptacle. There should be one per circuit. Houses built after 2017 may be on a GFCI breaker and will not have a RESET button on a receptacle. See Tripping Breakers.
  2. Does the circuit trip without anything plugged in?
    • YES
      •  Contact an electrician (preferably us lol)
    • NO
      • Check out the troubleshooting steps here > 5 COMMON REASONS YOUR BREAKER IS TRIPPING
      • Try plugging the appliance into another circuit.  Does it trip this circuit as well?
        • Note whether it’s a 15 or 20amp circuit (# on handle) and whether it’s GFCI protected.


This depends on the issue.
Running a dedicated 20amp Dual-Function circuit to a dedicated outlet can resolve the issue if your refrigerator is pulling to many amps and tripping a 15amp circuit with other items plugged in. This may not resolve the issue if there is something wrong with the refrigerator itself.


Additional Resources (aka People Who Explain Things Better Than I Can lol)