My mother lives in a senior living apartment building. The building and its wiring are at least 40 years old. Her bathroom has one switch that controls both a GFCI outlet (top and bottom) and mirror lights. Therefore, the night-light that is plugged into the GFCI outlet only works when the mirror lights are switched on. If the mirror lights are off, the night-light will not work. How dumb! I want the night-light to work even if the mirror lights are off. The apartment "electrician" says the problem can't be fixed without ripping out walls. Can that be true? If not, how do I make changes to the GFCI and/or the switch so that a night light can be used as it was intended? There are no other lights or outlets in the bathroom.

  • Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes involved? Jul 6, 2017 at 22:12
  • Put the night light at the switch, if it has a neutral in there. Jul 6, 2017 at 22:52
  • Yeah -- the hot feed's either at the switch (which means you can put the nightlight there), or at the receptacle with the switch on a loop (which makes constant powering the receptacle trivial), most likely. (If it's at the light, then there's a /3 cable going down to either the receptacle or the switch, which means it boils down to one or the other of the above cases, anyway). Jul 7, 2017 at 0:25

2 Answers 2


The apartment "electrician" is correct.

The feed for the receptacle is going through the switch. Probably so things don't get left on when someone has left the room. I agree it is not the way it should be but you can't change that.

You could replace the switch (or have the "electrician" replace it) with a lighted switch or a combination switch / receptacle like this and wire the receptacle always hot like it should be. (The lighted switch is lit when the switch is off.)

Either way you can have a night light.

Good luck and stay safe!


The only other thing you could do is add a new GFCI below the switch or use a combo GFCI/Switch just for the night light. Be sure and get permission from the house electrician or have him do it.

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