I have replaced a bathroom outlet with a GFCI. The first outlet from the circuit breaker is the bathroom outlet.

The circuit then goes to a switched light outdoors, a switched light to a hallway, then to 3-way switches for kitchen ceiling lights. When I power on the circuit the bathroom outlet, the outside light, and the hallway light all work correctly.

When I turn on the kitchen lights from either switch, the GFI trips. The power into the GFCI outlet is connected to the LINE, the output is connected to the LOAD side.

Is it possible to have the 3-way switches for the kitchen lights work properly with this GFCI receptacle?


  • Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes? May 3, 2016 at 11:44

6 Answers 6


If the kitchen light(s) are tripping the GFCI then there is a problem in one of the lights. They should work just fine on GFCI whether connected to 3-ways or not.

Do not ignore the problem.

Track it down and repair it. The reason GFCI's or circuit breakers trip is because something is broke (technical term). This is your first sign of a problem. Ignore it at your own, and your family's, peril. The next sign could be someone hurt or a fire.

Good luck!


The kitchen light has a ground fault. That's why it trips the GFCI.

It may not have anything to do with being a 3-way switch. Good chance somebody did something dumb in the wiring, like use the ground as the neutral return for that light (maybe they didn't have enough wires, what with all the messenger wires). You might want to look into that.

The other option is just to ignore the problem and remove the GFCI protection from those lights. This means you will connect nothing to the "LOAD" side of the GFCI. Put 9" pigtails on the "LINE" side of the GFCI, then wire-nut all the blacks and all the whites together in the box.

  • I read something in a book about electrical wiring once that stuck with me... you probably don't want lights (especially the same bathroom light) on the GFCI circuit, because you don't want the combination of potentially wet floors (as bathrooms can be), tripped GFCI, and DARKNESS all at the same time. I like the idea of pigtailing it out, though it does ignore potential issues with the wiring of the kitchen cans. May 27, 2016 at 21:03

It's illegal as per the NEC to have a bathroom circuit leave the bathroom unless it's to anther bathroom outlet, and then it can only carry the GFCI's in multiple bathrooms.... No lights or any other uses, so this discussion is starting off badly and will end badly if you ignore the electrical codes

  • 2
    Welcome to the site! Generally when referencing the NEC (or any other standards), it is preferred if you cite (or quote) the particular section and indicate which version it is from. Its also important to consider user's physical locations and remember that not all users of the site reside in locations that are governed by the NEC so even if it is against NEC, it may not be illegal.
    – kinar
    May 27, 2016 at 18:49
  • It could be that this isn't the only receptacle in the bathroom -- the NEC requirement is that a bathroom receptacle on a 20A bathroom receptacle circuit be available Sep 16, 2018 at 17:03

It is possible for the 3-way switches to run on the load side, but I wouldn't recommend it. The way a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupted) receptacle (outlet) works is by tripping when there is a ground fault. If the outlet is tripping for one there is a short to ground making the outlet, and everything after that outlet lose power. I would put bathroom outlets on their own circuit and rec I protect those, and then the other switches on another circuit, but find that fault first or you will trip the circuit breaker.



If it is an illuminated switch, that could be your problem. The illumination power sometimes comes from an intentional leakage through an LED/bulb between a hot wire and ground. All built into the switch.

  • 2
    Usually, illumination power for switches (at least those illuminated when OFF) is done by trickling the indicator power through the load, not from hot to ground Sep 3, 2022 at 1:24

No it won't. It will keep tripping the circuit breaker. You can't run a GFCI outlet to a 3 way wire, it won't work. You wouldn't want to do that anyway. It's not safe and could be a potential fire hazard

  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. You seem sure about this, although it doesn't make sense to me (none of the "three way" wires are connected to anything but the line and the load, so they couldn't leak anything to ground). Where did you get this information? Sep 16, 2018 at 18:35

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