House about 15 years old. Upstairs bath has light switch (ceiling and 4 bulb over vanity) , exhaust fan switch and two GFCI plugs either side of vanity. Flipping the light switch trips the breakers - both. The lights over the vanity have been burning out frequently over past 6 months. Exhaust fan does not trip and any and all appliances plugged in do not trip. The light switch trips and then I took out all bulbs and it still trips. I replaced the switch and it still is the same. What should I check next? I'm thinking one of the fixtures, either ceiling or vanity must have a problem. Any other thoughts or confirmation would be appreciated - what to look for?

  • Has anything been done about the time this started happening, or did it just start on its own?
    – Tester101
    Nov 13, 2015 at 2:54
  • Nothing done for years except to change light bulbs - went from incandescent to screw in fluorescent. All worked fine until a few month ago.
    – CS Retired
    Nov 13, 2015 at 3:35
  • 1
    Just to clarify. There are two CFGI outlets with TEST/REST button, one each side of the vanity. When you turn on the light switch BOTH of the GFCI outlets trip their safety shutoff and go dead. Correct ?
    – user957902
    Nov 13, 2015 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


I think it is a safe bet that it is one of the fixtures. You seem to have ruled out everything else. Start with the fixtures that have been burning out lamps.

If you feel confident, turn off the breaker and remove one of the fixtures. It may or may not be obvious if it is the culprit. Cap off the wires coming out of the wall, turn on the breaker and try the switch. Repeat if the problem persists.

Edit: Upon re-reading, when you say "trips the breakers", do you mean the reset button pops out on the GFIs, or the circuit breaker trips?? A GFI is NOT a circuit breaker.

  • 1
    No I meant trip the GFCI reset button.
    – CS Retired
    Nov 13, 2015 at 3:35
  • some times the wiring gets a nick in the fixture / or if metal box if metal was used and grounded that may be the cause ,or give you something to look for. my apprentice recently wired some motion lights with emt/metal box it worked for a day then 1 light went out and the other stayed on all the time. He nicked the hot it blew after working for a day and smoked the sensor fixed the wiring and replaced the sensor and all better
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 13, 2015 at 14:18

UPDATE: I went directly to the light fixture above the vanity - it was actually two fixtures on either side and the left one after being removed allowed the system to function properly. I removed all and the only thing I could see was that all wires at the light sockets appeared burned - not through the insulation or anything but discolored like they had gotten hot.I bought new light sockets and installed those and the lights are on, the GFCI's are holding and everything is back to normal. Appreciate the confirmation of action by Speedy Petey and interest from others.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.