Electrical – How to diagnose an electrified refrigerator frame


Recently (or, perhaps, I recently noticed) my garage fridge started shocking me if I touch it in the wrong place. (A sampling of "wrong" places: the door hinge, a spot on the other corner where the paint is worn off)

The shock is quite severe, definitely not a static discharge.

I bought an outlet tester, which tells me that the outlet that the refrigerator is plugged into has an open ground. Is this enough to make the fridge shock me? I have checked for frayed or damaged wires inside the fridge and didn't find anything.

EDIT: More info: The fridge is currently plugged in to a surge protector, which is plugged in to a plug-in type GFCI, which is plugged into the ungrounded outlet.

EDIT 2: I have since fixed this problem by grounding the outlet in question. I don't know whether this masks a legitimate problem with the refrigerator, or if this was the actual solution, but the bottom line is that it not longer shocks me when I touch it. Thank you everyone for all of your help!

Best Answer

An open ground is not in and of itself a problem. Grounds are there to dump excess voltage in case something goes wrong. If all our appliances worked properly all the time, there'd be no need for ground.

So what you have is two problems:

  1. Your fridge has a bare wire rubbing against the frame or other electrical short,
  2. And, the safety device meant to mitigate such a fault (ground) is broken.

If I were you, I'd replace the outlet, preferably with a GFI, and make sure the ground is attached. Then I'd have someone in to look at the fridge.