Will a garbage disposal trip a GFCI outlet?

Is it possible for a garbage disposal to trip a GFCI outlet?

Before I answer this question, it's important for me to point out that you should always consult a professional electrician if and when you're having problems with an outlet. In this article, I'm providing basic information that you can use as a reference, but always make sure to confirm major changes in wiring or electrical devices with a professional.

But for informational purposes, we'll start with the simple answer.

Read more: Best garbage disposals overall

Is it possible for a garbage disposal to trip a GFCI outlet?

In simple terms, yes.

It's possible for a garbage disposal to trip a GFCI outlet. However, there are several things that have to be true for this to happen.

GFCI Outlet

Can a garbage disposal trip a GFCI outlet? Maybe. Flickr Commons image via Nan Palmero

1. A garbage disposal needs to be plugged into a GFCI outlet

While codes can change depending on locality, the International Association of Certified Home inspectors holds that GFCI outlets are optional for garbage disposals. However, they're often used because they're near a water source. But note that a garbage disposal isn't going to be the cause of a GFCI trip if it's plugged into a non-GFCI outlet (another outlet entirely).

2. It needs to have a leak

The second condition is that your garbage disposal needs to have a leak or some kind of external moisture. Typically a physical inspection of your unit is sufficient to determine if there is a leak.

3. Water from that leak needs to make contact with the wiring

Once there is a leak, for the GFCI to be tripped, the water or moisture from that leak needs to make contact with the conducting portion of the wiring. This is unlikely because that part of the wire is usually covered. It happens, but it's rare.

GFCI Outlets in Kitchen

GFCI outlets are typically used near sources of water, in bathrooms and kitchens.

What about an electrical short?

It's also possible for a short in your garbage disposal to cause a GFCI to trip. However, that's probably less likely than a water leak, which itself is already a rare occurrence. 

A Perfect Storm

The reality is that you sort of need a perfect storm for your GFCI to trip because of your garbage disposal. One caveat could be if your garbage disposal is on a shared circuit, particularly with another appliance like your dishwasher. But that's usually not the case, unless they're on a 20-amp circuit which can likely handle the amperage. 

A dedicated 15-amp circuit for your garden variety garbage disposal isn't going to trip a GFCI outlet without a leak.

Even then, that leak needs to be fairly extensive for a trip to occur.

Conclusion

It's probably not necessary, in most cases, to have your garbage disposal plugged into a GFCI outlet. No, it won't hurt anything - but it's more than you need, given the likelihood of water coming into contact with the wiring is fairly small.

Check your outlet and make sure there are no leaks or moisture coming from your garbage disposal.

If it's plugged into a GFCI and the GFCI keeps tripping, I'd recommend browsing through this Reddit thread for some possible culprits/solutions.

You can also leave questions in the comments section below.

I'll see you there.

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