I'm including photos to help convey this information more easily to hopefully get some help.

I had an electrician remove two outlets on either ends of the wall where two vanity mirrors will be positioned. They are covered up and the wall has new tile so you can't see any of that any longer. I wanted a minimalist design so we are going with one light switch to control overhead ceiling lights and one 20 amp outlet. I thought the Romex (to power the new GFCI) to the right had its own power. I replaced the old light switch with a new dimmer you can see in the photos. My vanity mirrors have lights built that you touch at the mirror surface (this is in addition to the overhead lights that work fine from the new switch in replaced that's on the left). I'm only mentioning that so you understand the Romex wiring exposed behind where the vanities will be placed. But after racking my brain I think the electrician put a Romex wire that has no power at the moment. This is the wire that's currently to the right of the light switch.

Was his plan to connect the functioning live Romex that currently powers the light switch to the 20 amp outlet at the line and then run wires from the load (remove the yellow sticker and connect the wires that power the mirrored lights) so that all will work?

Lastly, I took another photo to show the wiring to the light switch at the left. Currently, two black wires control power to the light switch for lights at the ceiling. The white whires are capped off. Do I still use these two black wires to run to the line on the 20 amp outlet. And then connect the vanity mirror lights to the load to make everything work?

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  • 2
    As a temporary solution for testing to ensure everything is working OK, those wire nutted connections in the mirror recesses are OK. However for a permanent installation, they are a code violation and a potential fire starter. NEC requires that ALL wire junctions be permanently accessible with nothing more than a screwdriver to remove a cover plate and that they be within an approved junction box. You can't just have the wires poking out of holes in the walls and wire nuts dangling free behind the permanently installed cabinets. This is a fire waiting to happen.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 12:38

1 Answer 1


You have 3 cables in the switch box.

One cable is incoming power. It has black (hot, attached to the switch) and white (neutral). You can identify this one a few ways. The simplest is to use a non-contact voltage tester (NCVT) to see which black wire has power when the switch is off.

The second cable is going to the overhead lights. It has black (switched hot, attached to the switch) and white (neutral).

The white neutrals from incoming power and the switched overhead lights are connected together. That is normal.

The third cable will be going to the vanity lights. Normally, lights (e.g., the overhead lights connected to the existing switch) don't need GFCI protection. However, vanity lights where (unclear) somehow touching the mirror affects the lights, is a case where I would highly recommend GFCI protection for safety.

The GFCI has two sets of screws. One set is LINE and the other set is LOAD (initially covered by yellow tape). You should use LOAD in order to provide protection to the vanity lights. But don't connect them yet. Connect and test the GFCI first.

  • Turn off the circuit breaker.
  • Get two short pieces of 12 AWG black wire and an appropriately sized wire nut. Connect the existing incoming hot black wire and the two short black wires with a wire nut. Connect one short black wire to the switch (where the incoming hot was originally) and the other to the hot screw on the LINE side of the GFCI.
  • Get one short piece of 12 AWG white wire and connect it to the existing white wires (you may need a new wire nut) and to the neutral screw on the LINE side of the GFCI.
  • Turn on the circuit breaker. Make sure the overhead light switch still works and the GFCI/receptacle works (TEST off, RESET on, receptacle successfully powers a device (light, phone charger, fan, whatever).
  • Turn off the circuit breaker.
  • Connect the new cable's black wire to the hot screw of the LOAD side of the GFCI. Connect the new cable's white wire to the neutral screw of the LOAD side of the GFCI.
  • Connect the vanity light to the other end of the cable.
  • Turn on the circuit breaker and test everything.
  • Gonna try this in a moment. I need some source of light to see what I'm doing since turning off the circuit turns off all the lights. And nighttime is already here in my area so it's pitch black in my bathroom at the moment. My helmet light I normally use just died so it's charging now. If this works I'll upvote this answer. For now, thanks for providing all this detailed info. I do have a pen-like voltage tester, too.
    – Adrien
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 2:29
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    In fact, "turning off the circuit turns off all the lights" is why generally you don't put lights on the LOAD side of GFCI. But a touchable light (as opposed to a switch separate from the light) in a bathroom is a different story. This is also why having a separate circuit for lights vs. receptacles is preferred, but code does allow for the bathroom receptacle circuit to also power lights in the bathroom. Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 2:35
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    I have yet to live in a house where electrical wiring was perfectly done to code. This is how this house was wired before I ever lived here. All I can do is work with what I got.
    – Adrien
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 2:51
  • 2
    I did everything exactly per your instructions and everything works beautifully. All that's left to say is this; funimada.com/assets/images/cards/big/thank-you-17.gif and this: desicomments.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/…
    – Adrien
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 3:52

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