I'm attempting to install a new bathroom fixture and have run into some trouble.

  • I have two wall switches that control three lights. One switch turns on/off two vanity lights and the other a hanging light I am attempting to install.

  • On the vanity lights: one has two white and two black wires coming from the wall and connecting to a single white / black from the light itself. The other vanity light has a single white/black from the wall connecting to a single white/black on the light. Both of these lights are somehow connected to a single wall switch

  • In the ceiling there are 4 black, 4 white, and 4 grounds. Three black wires are all connected by a wire nut leaving 1 black, and 4 white wires. One of these white wires is hot and is marked with black tape

I thought this would be a simple install, but boy was I wrong. Now I’m not sure where my new fixtures wires would tie in with its single white and single black wire. This would be controlled by the second wall switch.

In hindsight, I would have taken a picture prior to any of this. Lessons learned.

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  • 1
    Which wires were connected to the lamp before? Which wires were grouped together (but not connected to the lamp) before? This is important info. Nov 29, 2019 at 16:00
  • I wish I had that answer. The only ones I can say with certain that we’re grouped together before are the three black wires seen in the picture Nov 29, 2019 at 16:03
  • The question is, where does that top right cable go? If you told us you had a second ceiling fixture controlled by the same switch I would guess that cable goes there, and the switch leg seen here controls that too. But if the switch for this ceiling light does not control the vanities or anything else, and if that top-right black was not connected to the bundle of blacks ... my first guess is that it does nothing. Try capping it off, connecting the remaining wires as a typical switch leg, improve the ground as suggested in the answer, and see if there's anything that doesn't work.
    – jay613
    May 27, 2021 at 10:15

1 Answer 1


It looks like you have a switch leg, possibly improperly wired and possibly 2 light or a light and power going someplace else like an outlet (possibly a spare). You will need to figure out which one is the switch, then it will be easy. Your main is labeled.

The switch cable is probably the one with black tape on the white wire. Swap that black and white so the white is always hot and the black is now the switched hot. Then the light fixture can be hooked up to the black switched hot and the white from the main.

If everything works the other cable may be a spare. If you find another outlet or light that doesn’t work the one that is not connected needs to be connected to the main cable's white and black.

It would be good to put a wire nut or crimp sleeve on the grounds and attach them to the box as it is a metal box the ground should be connected to the box. This may also be done with the new fixture green wire.

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