I just bought a brand new washing machine and the hookups are located in the basement by a single GFCI outlet. This GFCI outlet is connected to a dual function AFCI/GFCI breaker. When initially plugging in the new machine, everything worked as expected. Meaning, the machine turned on and I was able to use if for several loads of laundry. One day the I realized that both the outlet and breaker (both GFCI protected) had tripped. Naturally, I reset both the breaker and the outlet. However, since then every time I go to plug in the machine there is a small spark and both the outlet and the breaker get tripped again.

I've tried running an extension cord to other outlets in the house, one of which is a standard outlet and the other which is a different GFCI outlet. Both of these outlets are on separate breakers from one another (both breakers are also dual function AFCI/GFCI) as well as the previous mentioned basement GFCI outlet. When plugging the machine via extension cord into the standard outlet everything works as expected. (It's my understanding that this is safe as the associated breaker is GFCI protected; Please confirm my understanding.) That said, when plugging in the machine via extension cord to the other GFCI outlet I get the same results as the basement GFCI outlet (small spark and tripping of the outlet and it's breaker).

It's my understand that a GFCI outlet connected to a GFCI breaker is redundant. That said, is it possible that the tripping of the outlet and breaker is a product of the redundant protection? If so, is it appropriate and safe to change out the basement GFCI outlet for a standard outlet? It seems logical to me as the breaker is still GFCI protected.

I should also mention that the house was built in 1945 and has somewhat dated electrical work, save the updated dual functionality breakers present.

I greatly appreciate any feedback/support and I thank you in advance.

Edit: I added a photo of the breaker in question. I'd greatly appreciate any follow advice base upon the type of breaker you see in the image here. Thanks

Breaker in question

  • 4
    Redundant protection can be annoying to troubleshoot, but it should not in and of itself cause a problem. Are you sure you have AFCI/GFCI breakers? Because you have "Combination AFCI" which is a variant of AFCI and not "AFCI + GFCI". A picture of the breakers would help a lot. Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 1:42
  • 2
    "plugging the machine via extension chord... It's my understanding that this is safe..." yes, probably safe but possibly not good for your appliance. The user's manual should have data on maximum length and conductor size of connecting cords. Too long and/or undersized conductors could cause voltage drop and damage to electric motors. Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 5:30
  • 1
    I'm not real familiar with how dual function breakers work. But you could replace your GFCI outlet with a standard outlet, and see if the breaker trips when you press the GFCI button on an outlet tester. If the breaker trips, then just roll with the standard outlet. However, if your home is that old, why are you using an AFCI (or even GFCI) breaker? Do you even have grounds?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 12:32
  • @Huesmann My concern is what if the breaker is actually a "CAFCI" and not "AFCI + GFCI". We don't really know, and won't know until we see a picture. Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 14:25
  • Thanks for the responses everyone. I've updated the post to include an image of the breaker in question, per your requests. Please let me know your thoughts/suggestions when you have the time. Thanks again
    – gitit4321
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


You have GFCI protection at the breaker. You do NOT need GFCI protection at the receptacle. That adds confusion/complication but does not add to safety.

Replace the GFCI/receptacle with a standard receptacle. Note that if you have multiple cables involved you need to carefully figure out what goes where, because a GFCI/receptacle has a different screw terminal location pattern than a standard receptacle.

Pay the extra $2 or so for a higher quality receptacle. Look for "screw to clamp" - this is a feature where you can put the wires (and 2 per screw) straight in instead of having to bend the wires, which is easier and more reliable for people with little experience. Typically this is listed as "Commercial Grade" instead of "Residential Grade", though terminology varies by manufacturer.

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