How to Fix a Refrigerator Tripping Breaker (2023)

How to Fix a Refrigerator Tripping Breaker (1)

Understanding the Issue: Why Does Your Refrigerator Keep Tripping the Breaker?

How to Fix a Refrigerator Tripping Breaker (2)

It can be frustrating to have your refrigerator constantly tripping the breaker. Not only is it inconvenient, but it can also be a sign of a bigger issue. While there could be a variety of reasons as to why your refrigerator is tripping the breaker, most commonly it is due to an electrical issue.

One potential cause of this issue could be a faulty refrigerator compressor. The compressor works by cooling the air inside of the refrigerator and keeping it at a consistent temperature. If the compressor is not working correctly, it could be causing an electrical overload and tripping the breaker. Another possible culprit could be a damaged cord or plug. Over time, these components can become worn or frayed, which can lead to electrical issues and cause the circuit breaker to trip.


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It is also possible that there is an issue with the other appliances or electrical devices that are on the same circuit as your refrigerator. If too many appliances are running at the same time, it can cause the circuit to overload and trip the breaker. For example, if you have your refrigerator on the same circuit as a microwave and a coffee maker, running all three at once could cause the breaker to trip. In this case, it may be necessary to redistribute your appliances to different circuits to prevent overloading.

In some cases, the issue could be with the electrical wiring in your home. If the wiring is old or damaged, it could be causing electrical surges that are tripping your refrigerator’s circuit breaker. If you suspect that this may be the case, it is important to have a professional electrician inspect your wiring to determine if any repairs need to be made.

Whatever the cause of the issue may be, it is important to address it as soon as possible to prevent damage to your refrigerator and to ensure the safety of your home. If you are unsure of the cause of the problem or do not feel comfortable addressing the issue on your own, it is always best to consult with a professional appliance repair service or electrician. They will be able to diagnose and repair the issue quickly and effectively, and can also provide helpful tips on how to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.

Troubleshooting Basics: How to Check for Common Problems in Your Refrigerator

How to Fix a Refrigerator Tripping Breaker (3)

(Video) Fridge keeps tripping the circuit breaker

Refrigerators are an essential appliance for any household. They keep our food fresh and prevent it from spoiling. However, if your refrigerator trips the breaker, it can be a huge inconvenience. There are several reasons why a refrigerator might trip the breaker, such as a damaged compressor or a faulty overload protector. In this article, we will discuss the common problems that cause a refrigerator to trip the breaker and how to fix them.

Faulty Defrost Timer

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The defrost timer is an important component of a refrigerator. It controls the automatic defrost cycle, which is necessary to prevent the buildup of ice in the freezer. If the defrost timer is faulty, the refrigerator may stop working or trip the breaker. To check if the defrost timer is malfunctioning, turn off the refrigerator and unplug it from the power source. Locate the defrost timer, which is usually located behind the kickplate or inside the control panel. Check the contacts on the defrost timer for signs of wear or damage. If the defrost timer is defective, replace it with a new one.

Additionally, you can manually advance the defrost timer to ensure it is functioning properly. Locate the timer switch and turn it clockwise until you hear a click. This should activate the defrost cycle. Wait for 30 minutes and check if the defrost cycle has started. If it does not, the defrost timer is likely defective and needs to be replaced.

Overheating Compressor

How to Fix a Refrigerator Tripping Breaker (5)

The compressor is the heart of a refrigerator. It is responsible for compressing and circulating the refrigerant throughout the system to cool the refrigerator. If the compressor is overheating, it can trip the breaker. To check if the compressor is overheating, touch the compressor and feel if it is hot to the touch. If it is, unplug the refrigerator and allow the compressor to cool down.

You can also clean the compressor coils to improve airflow and prevent overheating. Locate the compressor coils, which are usually located at the back of the refrigerator. Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice attachment to remove any dust or debris that has accumulated on the coils. This will improve the performance of the compressor and prevent overheating.

Faulty Overload Protector

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The overload protector is a safety device that protects the compressor from overheating. If the overload protector is faulty, it can trip the breaker and prevent the compressor from functioning properly. To check if the overload protector is defective, unplug the refrigerator and remove the access panel. Locate the overload protector and use a multimeter to test if there is continuity between the terminals. If there is no continuity, the overload protector is faulty and needs to be replaced.

In conclusion, a refrigerator can trip the breaker due to various reasons. However, these are some of the common problems that can lead to a tripping breaker. By troubleshooting these issues, you can ensure that your refrigerator is functioning properly and prevent any inconvenience caused by a tripped breaker.

Upgrading Electrical Outlets and Wiring

How to Fix a Refrigerator Tripping Breaker (7)

If you have already unplugged other appliances and tested the breaker, but the fridge still continues to trip the circuit, then it might be time to upgrade your electrical outlets and wiring. Refrigerators demand a heavier load than any other appliance in your house, which is why you need to ensure that your electrical system can handle it.

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The wiring and electrical outlets in your home should withstand a minimum of 20 amps of power to support the fridge. The refrigerator’s circuit must have its own dedicated electrical line free from any other electrical connections. This should minimize the likelihood of it overloading the circuit and tripping the circuit breaker.

A reliable and qualified electrician can provide you with a variety of electrical upgrade options to suit your needs. Here are a few recommended electrical upgrades you can consider.

1. Dedicated Electrical Lines: A skilled electrician will run an independent circuit to your refrigerator if your fridge does not already have one. A dedicated circuit is a moderately affordable option that can provide your refrigerator with its own voltage supply without affecting other individual circuits and overloading it.

2. Heavy-Duty Wiring: Your refrigerator wiring should be heavy-duty, as well as your electrical outlet and wire rating. Copper wiring is ideal for refrigerators as it guarantees that your fridge gets the power it requires to run smoothly. You may also consider upgrading your appliance to a grounded three-pronged plug.

3. GFCI Outlets: GFCI outlets are required for safety reasons in your kitchen and bathroom, but they can frequently cause power interruptions. You can replace them with arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) outlets. AFCIs give you an equivalent level of protection to GFCIs but with no tripping.

4. Upgrade Your Electrical Panel: You may require a circuit board upgrade if your appliance continually trips the circuit breaker not only while running but also when you turn it on. Updating to a circuit board with higher amp capacity will allow your refrigerator to run smoothly and safely while not overloading the circuit breaker.

When it comes to electrical systems, it’s always best to leave the work to professionals. While you may be handy, electrical issues can be dangerous and disastrous, leading to costly repairs or even fire hazards. Only a licensed electrician is qualified and experienced to work with your home’s electrical system, ensuring installation and repair jobs are done correctly and safely.

Replacing Faulty Parts: When It’s Time to Call in a Professional

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If you have tried all the troubleshooting steps and still can’t figure out why your refrigerator keeps tripping the breaker, it might be time to call in a professional. Here are some of the most common faulty parts that might be causing the issue:

  • Compressor: The compressor is the heart of your refrigerator. It compresses the refrigerant gas and circulates it through the coils, so if it’s faulty, the whole system might not work correctly. A technician can check the compressor and replace it if necessary.
  • Start relay: The start relay is responsible for sending power to the compressor when it’s time for it to turn on. If the start relay is faulty, it might be causing the circuit breaker to trip. A technician can check the start relay and replace it if needed.
  • Defrost timer: The defrost timer is responsible for turning on the defrost cycle regularly to prevent ice buildup. If it’s faulty, you might notice ice buildup in your freezer or other problems. A technician can check the defrost timer and replace it if necessary.
  • Thermostat: The thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature inside your refrigerator. If it’s faulty, it might be causing the system to overwork and trip the breaker. A technician can check the thermostat and replace it if needed.
  • Wiring: Faulty wiring can also cause your refrigerator to trip the breaker. A technician can inspect the wiring and replace any damaged parts or connections.

While some of these parts might be easy to replace, others are more complicated and can be dangerous to handle without the proper training and equipment. That’s why it’s crucial to call in a professional refrigerator technician. They have the expertise and tools to identify the root cause of the problem and fix it safely and efficiently.

When choosing a refrigerator technician, look for someone with experience and a good reputation in your area. Read reviews online, ask for recommendations from friends or family, and check their credentials and certifications. Make sure they offer a warranty for their work and ask for a detailed estimate before agreeing to their services.

It might be tempting to try to fix your refrigerator yourself to save some money, but in the long run, it can be more expensive and risky. A trained technician can save you time, headaches, and money by solving the problem the right way the first time.

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In summary, if you have tried all the troubleshooting steps and still can’t fix your refrigerator, it’s time to call in a professional technician. They can identify the faulty parts and replace them safely and efficiently, saving you time and money in the long run. Remember to choose a reputable and experienced technician and ask for a detailed estimate before agreeing to their services.

Maintaining Your Refrigerator: Tips for Keeping It in Top Condition and Avoiding Electrical Issues

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If you want your refrigerator to last long and function optimally, then maintenance is the key. A well-maintained fridge consumes less energy, keeps food fresh, and reduces the likelihood of electrical issues like tripped breakers. In this section, we’ll explore five ways to maintain your refrigerator.

1. Clean the Coils Regularly

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The condenser coils in your refrigerator are responsible for releasing heat out of the fridge and into the air. If the coils are dirty, they can’t release heat as effectively, and the unit will have to work harder to keep the food cool. This extra energy consumption can cause the breaker to trip. Therefore, it’s crucial to clean the coils at least twice a year. To do this, first, unplug the fridge and locate the coils, usually at the back of the fridge or near the bottom. Use a brush or a vacuum cleaner to remove the dirt and dust from the coils.

2. Check the Door Seals

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Loose or damaged door seals can cause cool air to escape, leading to inefficient cooling that increases the strain on the motor, which may cause tripped breakers. Check the door seals regularly and ensure that they are tight and in good condition. If you find any damage, fix it immediately or replace the seal.

3. Allow Enough Room for Air Circulation

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For your fridge to function correctly, there must be enough space around it to let the air circulate freely. If the appliance is pushed up against the wall or other items, it will cause the compressor to work harder to cool the food, causing the breaker to trip. Give your fridge at least 2 inches of space on all sides to ensure proper airflow.

4. Keep the Fridge and Freezer Clean

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To keep your fridge running efficiently, you have to keep it clean on the inside. A dirty fridge can restrict the airflow, cause odors, and put extra stress on the motor. Clean the interior of the fridge and freezer regularly, especially after spills or expired food cleanup. Also, defrost the freezer when the ice build-up is more than 0.5 cm.

5. Hire a Qualified Electrician

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If your refrigerator keeps tripping the breaker even after proper maintenance, you may require an electrician’s services. Please do not attempt a DIY fix as it can be dangerous and void your warranty. A qualified electrician can diagnose and troubleshoot the problem and suggest the best remedy.

By following these tips, you can ensure your refrigerator is in good condition and avoid electrical issues like tripped breakers. Regular maintenance can save you money in the long run by extending the service life of your unit and reducing energy consumption.

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How do you fix a fridge that keeps tripping the breaker? ›

Short Circuits

Troubleshooting this sort of problem is relatively simple. If the breaker tripped immediately after plugging in the fridge, then you should consider unplugging it, resetting the breaker, and plugging in a second appliance. If the second appliance works, the short circuit is inside the refrigerator.

What would cause a refrigerator to trip a circuit breaker? ›

If your refrigerator trips often, then it is likely due to the compressor. Every time your compressor turns on to run the cooling cycle, it will trip the breaker. When this happens, it is typically due to a grounding issue with the compressor that is causing the part to essentially become overloaded with electricity.

What is the solution for tripping circuit breaker? ›

The easiest way to prevent your circuit breaker from constantly tripping is to simply not overload one circuit. Keeping your electrical load split between multiple circuits means each breaker won't have to bear the full load of current flowing through.

What to do if an appliance keeps tripping the breaker? ›

Call an appliance technician or electrician to rectify the appliance. Check for faults in the wiring and electricity supply: The trip switch will have a reset or 'push to test' button. Push this button. If the switch trips again, there is likely a fault with the electrical wiring in the house.

Why does my fridge keep shutting off? ›

It May Be a Thermostat Issue

If the refrigerator shuts off and you are able to get it running against by shutting the fridge on and off with the thermostat knob, then the thermostat may be the issue. To check, the next time your refrigerator shuts off, turn the thermostat knob all the way off and then turn it back on.

Can low refrigerant cause breaker to trip? ›

If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it has a refrigerant leak (refrigerant isn't used up like gas). Low refrigerant can also cause the AC to overheat and trip your breaker.

Will a surge protector stop a breaker from tripping? ›

Will a surge protector stop breakers from tripping? No, tripping breakers are usually caused by current (amperage) overloads. Surge protectors protect against voltage surges and spikes.

What are 3 reasons why circuit breakers fail to trip? ›

A circuit breaker can fail without tripping and is an indication it needs to be replaced. It can also mean there are wiring issues with the circuit itself, such as exposed/loose wiring, overheating, and unregulated voltage.

How many times can a breaker trip? ›

An electrician is coming to replace the cutoff (containing fuses) with a simple lever cutoff. In discussing this he said that a circuit breaker should not be allowed to trip more than 4 or 5 times before being replaced.

Is it safe to reset a tripped breaker? ›

It is safe to reset a breaker only if it has been determined that the circuit was overloaded. Repeatedly resetting a breaker could result in an arc flash or a fire. If the cause is due to a short-circuit or a ground fault, a qualified electrician must be notified to investigate the problem.

What are three warning signs of an overloaded electrical circuit? ›

Signs of Overloaded Circuits
  • Dimming lights, especially if lights dim when you turn on appliances or more lights.
  • Buzzing outlets or switches.
  • Outlet or switch covers that are warm to the touch.
  • Burning odors from outlets or switches.
  • Scorched plugs or outlets.
Nov 17, 2022

How do you know if your refrigerator compressor is bad? ›

To break it down, you likely have a bad compressor if:
  1. The compressor starts making an unusual or loud noise when running.
  2. The compressor turns on and off too frequently.
  3. The compressor turns off prematurely.
  4. The refrigerator is not cooling.
  5. The compressor overheats.
  6. Your electricity bills are too high.
Dec 2, 2021

How do I know if my refrigerator compressor is not working? ›

Your refrigerator compressor is responsible for that humming sound. So, if the sound stops for good, or if the sound goes from faint to a constant or very loud humming noise that does not shut off, it may be a sign the compressor is broken or malfunctioning.

What are the symptoms of a bad compressor relay? ›

Common signs include inconsistent cooling, not hearing a click from the compressor turning on, and no cold air.

How much does it cost to replace a refrigerator relay? ›

Fridge Relay Switch Cost

If the fridge is running, but not staying cool, there's a chance the problem is simply a faulty relay switch, which can cost $50 to $200 to repair.

How much does a fridge relay cost? ›

Refrigerator Relay at Rs 40/piece(s) | Refrigeration Relays in Chennai | ID: 11472663648.

How do you know circuit breaker is in trip condition? ›

When all the lights and fixtures in only a portion of the house go dark or dead simultaneously, it's because one of those circuit breakers has "tripped" or one of those fuses has blown. These devices automatically shut off power to the circuit when problems occur.

Can a pressure switch cause breaker to trip? ›

Pressure Switch

If the contacts aren't working right or at all, it can cause a pressure relay problem that can make your system overdraw amperage that can trip your breaker.

Can a bad AC compressor cause breaker to trip? ›

The compressor is in your air conditioner's outdoor unit. A weak compressor has trouble starting. When it does try to start, it may try to pull too much electricity, which will trip your breaker. If this is the problem, an air conditioning professional might recommend installing a hard start kit.

Does tripping a breaker damage it? ›

Circuit breakers are manufactured to open whenever an over current situation occurs. Whether it is from a direct, short to ground or a device failure of high amperage. Repetitive over current or constant tripping can severely weaken the conductive metal and finally break the small metal piece.

Can a tripped breaker cause a fire? ›

When a circuit breaker trips, too much electricity is trying to move through the circuit at once, causing the circuit breaker to literally break the circuit. Too much electricity passing through a circuit can overheat the electrical wiring in your home or electrical devices, which can cause a fire or electrocution.

Why does my power keep going on and off without tripping the breaker? ›

If it doesn't trip immediately but trips later when your devices power up, it means that you have an overloaded circuit. An overloaded circuit happens when you pull more amps than your electrical system can handle.

Can too many appliances trip a breaker? ›

Overloading the appliances can cause them to trip a breaker, as well. Too many clothes in the washing machine can cause it to overheat and shut down the breaker. Older appliances in a new home may use too much energy to work properly.

How many times can you reset a tripped breaker? ›

As often as you wish, but if it trips a second time immediately after resetting, you have an overload, a short circuit, or a defective breaker.

What is the lifespan of a circuit breaker? ›

The average lifespan of a circuit breaker is about 30 to 40 years. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't check your breakers every once in a while. There are several signs to watch out for that can help you get ahead of a broken or outdated circuit breaker. How do you know if a circuit breaker needs to be replaced?

What happens if a breaker trips and won't reset? ›

If the breaker trips again you may have a short circuit or overloaded circuit, which will need to be checked out by a local licensed residential electrician. A circuit breaker that refuses to reset even after being turn to the 'off' position and back on may be broken and will need to be replaced.

Do I need to unplug everything to reset a breaker? ›

Before you head to reset your circuit breaker, turn off all light switches and unplug, turn off or disconnect important appliances and devices in the area of your home that has lost power. This will prevent damage when the power is reset.

Should I worry if a breaker trips once? ›

It can be a little unsettling when your circuit breaker trips. However, it is generally nothing to worry about. The primary reason for a circuit breaker to trip is having too many electric plugs into the same circuit. This is common in homes with older electrical work.

Will an overloaded circuit fix itself? ›

Circuit breakers help regulate how much electricity is flowing to a certain power source, like outlets and appliances. That way if a circuit is overloaded, it will simply shut itself off to prevent any serious electrical or safety issues.

What is the most common cause of a circuit overload condition? ›

Overuse of extension cords and multiple plug adapters on the same circuit are typical causes of an electrical overload -- by placing too much current demand on the circuit.

Is it OK to plug a refrigerator into a GFCI outlet? ›

There is no doubt that your family is safer with a GFCI on their refrigerator, than they are without it. The National Electrical Code requires that GFCI systems be grounded to ensure that a low-impedance fault path exists back to the OCPD.

How much does it cost to replace a refrigerator compressor? ›

Installing a new refrigerator compressor costs about $375 on average, ranging between $250 and $650. The cost for the compressor itself can run from $100 to $500, not including installation. When your refrigerator is running perfectly, you probably don't give its inner workings much thought.

What amp breaker should a refrigerator be on? ›

Most refrigerators run between 3 to 6 amps, with that said, a refrigerator can spike at peak usage up to 15 amps. It's best to take into consideration worst case scenarios. You should have refrigerators and freezers installed on a 15-20 amp dedicated 120 volt circuit.

How do I stop my fridge from tripping the GFCI? ›

What to Do When Your Refrigerator GFCI trips
  1. Reset the GFCI Outlet.
  2. Check the Power Cord.
  3. Check the Power Plug.
  4. Check That the Circuit Isn't Overloaded.
  5. Check the Outlet.
  6. Check the Circuit Breaker.
  7. Check the Refrigerator Wiring.
  8. Check the Defrost Heater.
Jul 7, 2021

Why does my fridge instantly trip the GFCI? ›

Faulty Refrigerator Wiring

Your fridge's internal wiring could be causing you GFCI to trip. Unplug and remove the lower back panel of your refrigerator. Inspect for damaged wires. If any are found, replace them with new wires and tape them securely in place.

Does a refrigerator need a 20 amp outlet? ›

A modern refrigerator requires a dedicated 20-amp circuit. You may currently have a smaller refrigerator plugged into a general lighting circuit, but during any major remodeling, install a dedicated circuit (120/125-volts) for the refrigerator.

What are the signs of a bad refrigerator compressor? ›

How to Tell if Refrigerator Compressor Is Bad
  • The compressor starts making an unusual or loud noise when running.
  • The compressor turns on and off too frequently.
  • The compressor turns off prematurely.
  • The refrigerator is not cooling.
  • The compressor overheats.
  • Your electricity bills are too high.
Dec 2, 2021

Is it worth fixing a refrigerator? ›

replace. Built-in refrigerators are almost always worth repairing. Not only are they less expensive to repair, but they typically have a longer lifespan anyways. Side-by-side refrigerators should be repaired within a five-year window and considered for replacement after that.

What's the average lifespan of a refrigerator? ›

Most refrigerators are designed to last between 10 and 20 years. If you're having any of the other problems on this list and the fridge is over ten years old, you'll probably save more money in the long run by simply replacing it. Otherwise, you could sink money into repairs for a fridge that's already on its way out.

Does a refrigerator need its own circuit breaker? ›

The National Electrical Code requires dedicated circuits for major electrical appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, and electric water heaters because they ensure that appliances can operate safely without overloading the home's electrical system.

Can I plug a fridge into a regular outlet? ›

A refrigerator should be plugged into the kind of outlet that the cord is designed to plug into. If it has two prongs a standard outlet is sufficient. If it has the three prong, 2 flat and one round, you can't plug it into any other kind of outlet, etc.

Can low voltage damage refrigerator? ›

If the voltage is too low, the amperage increases, which may result in the components melting down or causing the appliance to malfunction. If the voltage is too high, this will cause appliances to run 'too fast and too high' which will shorten their service life.

Can a breaker trip by too much power? ›

The most common and basic cause for a circuit breaker tripping is too much power consumption. This occurs when an electrical circuit draws more amperage than it can manage, causing the circuit breaker to trip (as designed) as a safeguard against electrical overload.


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