Is your washing cycle interrupted repeatedly by a GFCI breaker tipping?
Finding your washer still full of soapy water, and unfinished laundry because the GFCI breaker can be annoying. You should not have to be on hand to reset the GFCI breaker in order to complete a wash cycle. Here’s why your washing machine trips GFCI breakers during the wash cycle, and what exactly you should do about it.
Your washing machine trips GFCI breakers during the wash cycle for one of the following three reasons:
- The GFCI breaker is tripping because the current is leaking to the ground.
- The GFCI breaker is faulty.
- Your washer is older and has a higher current leakage threshold.
This post explains why your washing machine’s GFCI breaker might trip repeatedly and what you can do to resolve this nuisance tripping. Read on to learn more!
What Causes a Washer to Trip the Breaker? (+ Suggested Fixes)
If the washing machine is tripping your GFCI breaker, there are a couple of possible causes that may involve easy fixes and one that may present a genuine safety issue. Check out the list below to determine which one fits your washing machine’s situation.
The GFCI breaker is tripping because the current is leaking to the ground
If the GFCI breaker is tripping because there is indeed a genuine safety issue with the current leaking to the ground. You’ll need to proceed with caution.
This might be from current leakages to the ground as a result of damage to the insulation on the wiring, moisture, or a water leak in the washer’s electronic components. If this is the case, contact a qualified electrician to inspect and test the washer’s electric circuit to ensure there are no leaks, there is good grounding, and that it is safe to use. This is the most concerning thing to observe if the washing machine trips GFCI outlets.
How to fix a gFCI breaker that’s tripping due to current leakage
In all likelihood, this will not be the cause of the issue, but if you find yourself receiving shocks from the machine and the surrounding area, you should call a professional electrician. This is not a DIY project and can present a real safety issue to the uninitiated electrician. Make sure you proceed with caution in this case.
The GFCI breaker is faulty
If your GFCI breaker keeps tripping during the washing cycle, it could be that you have a GFCI breaker that’s faulty or of poor quality. In this case, the fix is quite simple and can be fixed all by yourself. To determine if this is the case, check the following:
- How old is the GFCI breaker? Is it a new install or one that has been working well until now?
- Push the test button, then use a voltage tester to check the outlet for power.
How to replace a faulty GFCI breaker and outlet
To replace a faulty or poorly designed GFCI breaker, follow the steps and watch the video below to replace the GFCI breaker and the specific outlet:
Replace a GFCI Breaker & Outlet:
- Unplug power or disconnect.
- GFCI increases safety in wet areas.
- Acts as fast circuit breaker during ground fault.
- GFCI in outlets (kitchen, bathroom, exterior) or circuit breakers.
- Test GFCI monthly using test and reset buttons.
- Use GFCI plug tester to check wiring defects.
- Replace GFCI carefully with proper tools.
- Ensure correct wiring (load, line).
- Use personal protective equipment.
- Consider professional help for hazardous projects.
Your washer is older and has a higher current leakage threshold
If your washing machine trips GFCI outlets, you’ll want to double-check that the appliance does not have a higher current leakage threshold than what the GFCI breaker is set to trip at.
Older washers might have a higher leakage current threshold and repeatedly trip the breaker.
Here are the questions you ought to ask yourself to determine if this is the source of your problem:
1. Is this a new washer? Was the previous washer working perfectly and the new washing machine trips GFCI outlets?
If so, then you might have an issue with the washer.
Does the GFCI breaker trip with other appliances too? If it only trips with the washer then is it highly probable that it is a washer issue. Contact a qualified electrician.
2. GFCI outlet. Test the outlet. Connect the washer to a different GFCI outlet. Does it still trip? If it trips with other working outlets too then it likely rules a GFCI outlet issue.
How to fix an older washer with a higher current leakage threshold
Obviously, there isn’t much you can do to fix an older washer with a higher current leakage threshold. In this case, you will likely need to purchase a new washing machine entirely. Many older washers are made with a higher current leakage threshold than many newer machines. If you notice this is the case, the situation could become dangerous. Call an electrician or purchase a new machine.
Should You Plug the Washer into a GFCI Outlet?
This mainly depends on the local code of your area. GFCI outlets protect you and the family from injury in case of a ground fault.
Certain installation environments are more susceptible to such faults for example if the washer is installed within 6 feet of a laundry sink.
The likelihood of water splashes is here and a GFCI outlet is usually required. Consult a qualified electrician to advise on this.
Summary of Why Washing Machine Trips GFCI Breaker During Cycle
If the GFCI breaker for your washer trips repeatedly, it might be a fault with the GFCI breaker or appliance.
Plug the washer into another GFCI outlet or connect another appliance in the GFCI outlet as a test to check if there is a fault with the washer or GFCI outlet.
brand new washer is tripping, what should I do?
In this case, you either have a faulty GFCI outlet/breaker, or you have the circuit overloaded by sharing it with another appliance. Try putting it on it’s own circuit. If it’s already on its own, you may need to install a new GFCI.
What to do when the washer is tripping the gFCI?
Test the GFCI outlet by plugging in a different appliance. If you notice electric shocks, call an electrician immediately.
Help with GFCI tripping problems.
Your GFCI is likely tripping when using the washer for the following three reasons: 1. The GFCI breaker is tripping because the current is leaking to the ground. 2. The GFCI breaker is faulty. 3. Your washer is older and has a higher current leakage threshold.
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