I made some repairs in a bathroom which included pulling an old outlet, switch, and the light. I'm coming back now to replace them with updated versions (gfci, switch, light) and scratching my head on how the wiring was working before. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't :(

The bathroom is on its own breaker. The source comes in to the GFCI, and then a cable feeds to the light, and finally from the light to the wall switch.


How can I wire this so the outlet remains on and the switch controls the light? I'm seeing a lot of examples of the light coming "after" the switch but that isn't how it was setup in this room. Everything is 14/2.


What was done was called a switch leg the black hot from the GFCI was tied to the white wire in the cable going to the switch. Both ends the wire taped or marked to show hot. Then that re identified wire on one side of the switch and the black on the other back at the light the black wire from the switch is the switched hot Or connects to the black of the light. Next the white wire from the GFCI is the neutral that goes to the white of the light. Once these connections are made it should work.

Note this is now an old method of wiring and we are supposed to take the neutral down to the switch location (or feed the switch first is the easiest without needing expensive wire or conduit (smurf tube commonly used).

  • To be sure I'm tracking, is this the method you're talking about? youtu.be/nLwg6dpCsyU?t=250 – CFA Sep 10 '20 at 20:27
  • Yes that is what the old switch leg wiring was. It can be found in probably 100 million homes or close. – Ed Beal Sep 10 '20 at 20:39
  • Thanks! I can confirm this method was the fix for my situation. – CFA Sep 11 '20 at 13:16

You can wire a switch loop from the fixture to the switch. You can source the power to the light fixture either via the LOAD terminal on the GFCI to protect the light circuit or just pigtail off the power feeding the Line terminal.

enter image description here

  • Is there any reason not to use the line terminal here? – CFA Sep 10 '20 at 20:28
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    @CFA, if you come off the LOAD side, the light will be protected by GFCI as well, which is required if it's over the bathtub, or the light fixture has an integral outlet. Otherwise, you can come off the LINE side, and the light won't be GFCI protected, but that's allowable by code in most situations. – Nate S. Sep 10 '20 at 20:35
  • Thank you! Makes sense. – CFA Sep 11 '20 at 13:17
  • @nate could you provide a code reference for over a tub, all that I have ever installed is a listed set fixture over a tub or shower. I think it is not good to have bathroom lighting in the GFCI as a minor fault leaves you in the dark. – Ed Beal Sep 11 '20 at 14:26
  • @EdBeal, I double checked and you're right, that's not in the NEC, but in practice it's still usually required anyway: what NEC does require is that lights installed in bath or shower areas be listed for wet/damp locations, and most (perhaps not all?) wet/damp location listed fixtures require GFCI protection in their instructions. – Nate S. Sep 11 '20 at 16:08

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