Is it normal for a GFCI, under load, to break at the electrical box and not the receptacle that caused the overload? Typically, I have only seen the receptacle trip and not the entire breaker.

I am not sure if this is the issue or not, but a closet in my house was wired to the same circuit as the outside GFCI. I have no idea why that is and only noticed it since we had contractors working on a project outside.


GFCI receptacles and standard circuit breakers perform different functions.

A GFCI receptacle measures current going out and current coming back and if there is more than 5ma current difference between the two it trips. This is to prevent electrocution of people not overloads or short circuits.

Standard circuit breakers have two methods of tripping and are designed to trip on an overload, high current ground fault, or short circuit. The overload can be just slightly higher than it's rating. The ground fault or short circuit can be hundreds of amps in a residential panel.

So, if you are tripping the circuit breaker it is possible you are just overloading the circuit. In this case a GFCI receptacle will not trip.

Good luck!

  • That makes sense. The contractors had air compressors plugged into outlet and when it would start up, the circuit would break. – DDiVita Jul 6 '17 at 19:29
  • GFCI receptacles do not detect or care about overcurrent. One compressor wouldn't cause an overload trip, it would need two, or something else large on that circuit. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 6 '17 at 20:41

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