My house was built in 1981, we have a small U shaped kitchen with 5 outlets, along with a switch for the garbage disposal.

I do not see any GFCI outlets or any indication any of them are. With a 4 month old now in the house, I am thinking it is a good idea to look at the electrical.

My question is if the outlets are all on the same line (they all go off with one switch in the breaker), can I install one GFCI outlet and it would protect al of them, or do I need to replace all 5?

I am fine either way, just do not want to spend the time and money if it doesn't serve a purpose. Is there a way to identify if they are in series or parallel? And if so would that impact if I need to replace them all or one?

I have read some basics on GFCI but get some conflicting reports on if one will protect them all.


4 Answers 4


If you can locate the outlet at the head of the chain, then you only need to replace that outlet. Just make sure the the incoming power is connected the the LINE terminals and the downstream outlets are connected to the LOAD terminals. The instructions included with the outlet should explain this.

Alternatively, if the only thing on that circuit are your kitchen outlets, you could replace the breaker with a GFCI breaker.

  • Thanks, this makes sense. Out of curiosity so I am aware of a potential mistake. It sounds like there is a way to wire the GFCI where downstream outlets are not protected. Am I correct in that?
    – treeNinja
    May 9, 2014 at 15:48
  • Yes. If you wire the downstream outlet to the LINE side of the GFCI, then they will not be protected. While you're out buying an outlet, get an outlet test that includes a GFCI test button. They are cheap.
    – longneck
    May 9, 2014 at 15:51
  • Do all down stream receptacles need to be labeled "GFCI, NO GROUND" or just the first GFCI one? By code of course, those stickers get peeled off 2 seconds after it passes from what I've heard :/ Feb 8, 2018 at 23:31
  • 1
    All GFCI protected outlets must be marked.
    – longneck
    Feb 9, 2018 at 0:02
  • @SteveByrne You only need the "No Ground" label if the outlets have no ground wire (i.e. they're two-prong only, or used to be and no ground wire was retrofitted), which seems unlikely on a house built in 1981.
    – Nate S.
    Mar 8, 2019 at 0:55

Yes, one GFCI receptacle, just like one GFCI breaker, can protect the entire circuit.

To install a GFCI receptacle to protect the entire run, you need to find the first receptacle location on the circuit. First confirm they're all on the same circuit and while you're at the panel make sure it's not already a GFCI breaker. Leave the circuit breaker off and take the cover off of the one on the far right or the far left, whichever one is closest to the panel. If there're two cables in that box (If there's only one cable go to the other far one), take the receptacle out and remove one black wire. Turn the circuit on and test the other 4 for power, if they're all still off you got the right one. Then you need to determine which of the two cables in the box is the feed, and it is the one that's still on (hot). Connect the feed cable wires to line and the others to load on the GFCI.


The code does NOT tell us WHERE to PLACE a GFCI protection on a circuit. Instead it tells us what circumstances a device will require GFCI protection.

The way I look at it is: As long as all that is on the circuit is convenience receptacles ONLY (no dishwasher/disposer/wine cooler/refrigerator/appliances) and as long as the run stops in the kitchen and not the living room etc. then one GFCI is sufficient for the run.

My preference is that for two kitchen walls use two GFCIs, but ONLY if it does not double protect the circuit. I also follow the same rules as a disconnect for equipment: line of sight to the GFCI etc. Saves everyone a LOT of issues.

So if two devices then an appliance I use two GFCIs line only, then another after the appliance line/load. Never had any fault issues.


I would simply follow the code, which would state that you need a GFCI within so many feet of the water outlet.

Electricians stop reading here... :)

It sounds like you don't want to pay the extra money. You would be "safer" to use GFCI outlet as close to point of use as possible, but as long as outlets are close together, I don't see the harm. You can daisy chain a standard outlet to a GFCI outlet. It has a place for it to be wired on the back. I would just do this two times, so you would just need to buy three of the GFCI outlets instead of five of them. They come in three packs at a discount as well. Mark all standard outlets with a label stating "GFCI PROTECTED" and an indicator of what GFCI outlet feeds the standard outlet (a small number or letter)

GFCI have backwire connections for both the line and load terminals for a reason.

  • 6
    This answer is wrong.
    – longneck
    May 9, 2014 at 14:08
  • 3
    Ludicrously so. Sheesh.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 9, 2014 at 15:22
  • 1
    You only need one if you wire it correctly. May 12, 2014 at 0:11

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