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I've bought a home with a circuit that begins with a GFCI in the breaker box, runs thru a bedroom, and ends with several GFCI outlets on the patio, that trips randomly.

Suspecting a moisture issue at the patio, I'm thinking of replacing those GFCI's on the patio with just regular (weather-resistant) receptacles to eliminate the moisture problem...keeping the one GFCI at the start of the circuit..the breaker box.

Would this be a safe move?

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    thank you for the most prompt and assuring response. – William Morton Feb 7 at 20:16
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    If you like the response, select it as the accepted answer. – mike65535 Feb 7 at 21:22
  • @mike65535 common advice here is to give 24 hours or so, as a better answer may come along (not super likely in this case, granted) – Harper Feb 7 at 23:51
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Perfect Solution

The GFCI in the breaker is all you need, so replace the other GFCI receptacles (whether inside or out) with regular receptacles and you will be fine. Except, as noted by Harper, the receptacles that need GFCI protection (and have it but "elsewhere") need to be marked GFCI protected.

There are three reasons why there may be GFCI receptacles in addition to the GFCI breaker:

  • Previous Owner Confusion - Previous owner didn't understand how things work and had GFCI deliberately installed in both breaker panel and receptacles for perceived extra safety.

  • Home Inspector or Real Estate Agent - A well-meaning, but not knowledgeable, home inspector or real estate agent told the previous owner to put in the outside GFCI in order to meet current code, without understanding that the GFCI in the breaker took care of everything safely

  • Retrofit - GFCI receptacles originally installed where needed to meet current code. At a later time, the breakers were upgraded (either an entire panel replacement or individual breakers replaced with GFCI breakers) to include GFCI, but the GFCI receptacles were never removed.

In any case, you can get rid of the GFCI at the receptacles. They are more vulnerable to weather-related problems (even with weather-resistant covers) than regular receptacles. If moisture really does get into the receptacles in a way that causes a ground fault, the GFCI breaker will protect you.

The only advantage of a GFCI receptacle over a breaker is that it is convenient to reset. However, there is no guarantee as to whether which GFCI (receptacle or breaker) will trip first - or they may both trip at the same time - so that advantage goes away when you have GFCI in more than one location.

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There's one more thing you have to do

The outdoor outlets failed inspection and needed to have GFCI receptacles fitted because that they did not have a sticker that said

GFCI protected

These are supplied in the box with GFCI devices, but people either don't apply them, or others remove them for aesthetic reasons, or they weather and fall off.

Obviously, a GFCI receptacle with functioning Test and Reset buttons is an acceptable substitute for the sticker.

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