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Does GFCI Protect Against Overload? (Explained)

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:27 pm

Electricity users desire to employ home safety devices to protect against adverse events such as fire outbreaks and electrocution.

GFCI is a popular option. However, you may wonder just how efficient a GFCI is against an overloaded circuit. Let’s find out.

GFCI does protect against overload. This device can also protect against electrocution. However, this protection is only possible if the GFCI is a circuit breaker inside the breaker box. A GFCI can not safeguard against overload in any other form. This rationale is because a GFCI is typically designed to detect a disruption in the current flow.

What Does GFCI Protect Against?

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protects against shock. However, the availability of GFCI both as breakers and outlets diverses what a GFCI prevents.

With that said, when GFCI is used as an outlet, it protects against electrocution. But, surprisingly, when a GFCI poses as a breaker, it grants protection against various electrical tragedies.

Let’s now see these protections offered by a GFCI breaker below;       

#1. Protection Against Electrocution

Many deaths have occurred due to electrocution over the years. Notwithstanding, this electrical incident has reduced considerably because of the advent of circuit breakers.

A GFCI breaker can also offer protection against a severe electric shock. For instance, when a person handles a faulty appliance in a wet area and, unfortunately, the individual gets shocked, the GFCI will detect the change in current flow.

Then, it will swiftly cut off the current coming via that circuit. Hence, minimizing the effect of the shock the person received.

#2. Protection Against Overload

Like a usual breaker, a GFCI breaker can protect against overload If there is an electrical system.

The GFCI breaker does this by tripping to cut out the current to protect against the overload.

#3. Protection Against Fire Outbreak

As a breaker in the service box, the GFCI breaker can prevent an overload. However, overloading may likely lead to overheating of wires.

And, when wires get exposed to usual hot temperatures, a fire occurs. However, the tripping of the GFCI breaker prevents this incident.

Notwithstanding, some of these protections offered by a GFCI result from its brands coming as breakers and receptacles.

However, all kinds of the GFCI tend to protect the home and are recommended by the NEC.

What Happens If You Overload A GFCI?

When you overload a GFCI, nothing directly will happen to the GFCI, especially if it’s a GFCI outlet/receptacle.

But, if a GFCI poses as a breaker in your panel box, it would trip when subdued to overload.

This is because the tripping results from the GFCI being a breaker, and a breaker is designed to trip when overloaded.

Not to get confused, GFCI, as earlier stated, comes in different forms. If it happens to be used as a breaker, the GFCI will perform exactly how a breaker does.

Notwithstanding, a GFCI breaker also protects against shock. In addition, the potential of a GFCI breaker in the panel box is to trip when there’s an overload in the home’s electrical system.

And the capability of a GFCI breaker to protect against shock gives it an overall advantage over other safety devices.

Here’s an example; anyone can ignorantly plug in an appliance with an amp rating far more than what the plugin outlet should carry.

What happens is that the GFCI breaker will trip to shut off the current flow. This event protects the electrical system from an overload.

However, in the case of a GFCI receptacle, there’s no capability of protecting against any overload.

The reason is that a GFCI outlet is only designed for sensing and protecting against dramatic shock.

Does GFCI Prevent A Breaker From Tripping?

Yes, a GFCI does prevent a breaker from tripping. However, this is only possible in an event where an appliance has a short circuit. Furthermore, when an appliance has a short circuit, the appliance tends to cause a shock.

Installation of GFCI outlets and breakers in homes is an additional means of protecting and keeping the home safe.

With this in mind, the functionality can’t prevent the other from functioning. Furthermore, a breaker trips to cut off current flow when there’s an overload or a short circuit.

A GFCI doesn’t necessarily have the potential to prevent a breaker from tripping. However, there are instances when a GFCI alters the functionality of a breaker.

For example, when an appliance that has a short circuit is plugged into a GFCI outlet. If the GFCI is installed correctly and the breaker is working perfectly.

What takes place is if the electricity user receives a shock due to the short circuit. The GFCI trips quickly enough to save the user’s life. And also in the process hinders the break from tripping to the short circuit.

Does GFCI Outlet Protect An Entire Circuit?

No, a GFCI outlet doesn’t protect an entire circuit. The logic is because an outlet is usually designed to be installed into a single circuit. So, a GFCI outlet protects the circuit installed into and not the entire circuit.

Moreover, an entire circuit includes dedicated circuits connected directly from the panel box.

Notwithstanding, a GFCI outlet can be positioned in a way that would offer protection to multiple outlets.

There’s also how you can install it only to protect a single outlet. However, connecting a GFCI outlet to standard outlets works almost perfectly, mainly in a specific room.

In this case, you should give these regular outlets GFCI protection. Furthermore, if the room uses one breaker, the wires coming from that breaker should first go to the GFCI outlet.

Afterward, the normal outlets would tap current and protect the unique outlet. This analysis implies that a GFCI outlet can only protect a few connected outlets.

However, anytime the GFCI outlet trips, those standard outlets connected to the GFCI’s load terminal will go out of power.

Moreover, if one intends to protect an entire circuit with a single GFCI outlet, the risk of the GFCI outlet malfunctioning due to overload should be kept in mind.

Nonetheless, the NEC recommends the GFCI breaker if one would want to protect an entire.


Generally, GFCI is typically not designed to protect against overload. However, GFCIs are available both as a breaker and also as receptacles.

Therefore, if a GFCI poses as a breaker, it does protect against overload. GFCI breaker is installed to protect against both overload and electrocution.

So, GFCI, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, protects against overload, electrocution, tripping and is durable enough, so long as it’s used correctly and maintained well.

So, if you’re looking for the proper protection for your home or work, a GFCI is very efficient. Just make sure you are using it suitable for the best result possible.


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