I moved into a new house and never heard of this before, so I thought it was strange.

On 2 circuits I've had a GFCI trip, and when they do, they trip the entire circuit. I thought they were just for the specific GFCI outlet, not the entire circuit.

Do I need to rewire these, as they are nuisance tripping.

  • 3
    GFCI's tripping should not be treated as a nuisance: they are a safety device. If it's tripping, it means one of two things: there is current flowing out the ground (precisely the condition indicating a fault in something attached; this current could potentially flow out of the person using the device thus electrocuting them), or the GFCI is faulty. If the GFCI is faulty, it should be replaced. If a device being protected by the GFCI is faulty, then that device should be replaced.
    – gregmac
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 21:01
  • I tripped my gfci! then had to do easter egg hunt to every outlet on that string including the breaker! Probably a safe thing ? So I am guessing the first gfci on that string will always trip along with any other one? No big deal except i just had to move a ton of stuff parked in front of number 1! Must not be a problem no one ever told me before? Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 12:50
  • GFCI’s tripping may indeed be a nuisance issue, motor loads like refrigerators, and fans are the most common nuisance trips that I have seen. My state has modifications to the national code for some devices that allow for no GFCI. it is common to wire a branch circuit with a GFCI breaker or down stream from receptacle to protect everything. It may or may not be required based on the year the home was built and the jurisdiction.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


Yes this is correct; a GFCI will protect downstream loads. The purpose of this is that you only need a single GFCI outlet per circuit. Alternatively you could use a GFCI breaker, but these tend to be more expensive.

If this is not behavior you want and you can confirm that it is not needed for safety and code-compliance reasons (ie: it doesn't feed any downstream bathroom, kitchen or wet/damp location outlets), you can rewire the outlet with a pigtail instead of using the Load side of the outlet - the outlet will work as a standalone outlet and trips will not affect downstream loads.

  • 7
    Note, just because someone doesn't want that behavior doesn't mean they don't need it. If you rewire, make sure all receptacles that need GFCI coverage have it.
    – BMitch
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 20:52
  • 2
    Thanks @BMitch, I've updated the answer to reflect this.
    – Steven
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 21:11
  • 2
    Note there is a difference between "a GFCI will protect downstream loads" and "a GFCI will interrupt the entire circuit." On the circuit (breaker #12) that powers our living room, there is an outdoor GFCI that often gets tripped. When it does, most of the lights and outlets on that circuit keep working, but one outlet that stops working. My long-time-electrician friend says it's because only that outlet is downstream from the GFCI. So another (more difficult) solution for the OP would be to rewire the circuit so loads he doesn't want interrupted by the GFCI tripping are upstream of it.
    – LarsH
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 16:56

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