I am replacing all the components in my bathroom during a remodel. I have a box that has a light switch and a GFCI, the switch controls the vanity light. When i removed the old fixture I neglected to note how everything was hooked up.

Everything seems to be hooked up properly, the switch controls the fixture with no problems, but the GFCI won't reset it stays tripped.

Any ideas?

The box for the switch and GFCI seemed straight forward, two sets of 3 wires, 1 black, 1 white and 1 ground. One set for the switch and one set for the GFCI. The box for the light fixture has 2 black and 2 white wires. One black wire is loose, the other is attached to a black wire that goes into the wall and this connection is wrapped in uninsulated copper wire.

I also have 2 white wires. So, I attached the black wire to the black wire on the fixture, and both white wires to the white wire on the fixture and the ground wire from the fixture to the green screw on the mounting harness.

What I get is what I mentioned before, the switch turns the light on and off, but the GFCI trips right away.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

here's the best i can do to diagram the situation. there are walls in place so I'm trying to give as much info as possible

Diagram of the situation

  • Can you include a photo, a diagram, or a detailed description of how everything is wired? Otherwise it's nearly impossible to answer without guessing.
    – Tester101
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:16
  • Does power enter at the light, or the switch?
    – Tester101
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:21
  • I believe power enters at the light. Thanks for your help!
    – Ron Jasin
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


When wiring with cable, and the feed is coming to the light, the standard is to feed a single pole with the white wire (the code requires this) and return with the black wire.

If you connect the white wire to the other white wires at the light fixture you create a dead short when the switch is closed this would trip the GFCI if you are downstream from it. Check that the conductors for the switch are not dead shorting the circuit.

A picture or diagram of your particular situation might help if the previous tip doesn't.

Good luck!

  • Thanks Archon! I can post a picture when I get home later today. But in the meantime - In the fixture box one white wire seems to go to the switch and the other to the GFCI. So are you saying the white wire from the GFI should connect to the black wire in the wall fixture box? Sorry I get around OK with home repairs, but don't have much experience with electrical work. I'm really kicking myself for not noting how everything was originally connected.
    – Ron Jasin
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:00
  • I added a diagram. Hopefully that helps
    – Ron Jasin
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:46
  • Tester annotated your diagram to show what I was saying. If the power comes in at the light, then the white wire going to the switch becomes a hot feed (should be re-identified with black tape) and the black coming back from the switch is the switch leg.
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 23:59

Based on your diagram, it appears as though it should be wired like this...

enter image description here

Notice that the white wire to the switch, has been marked with black tape/marker at both ends. This signifies that it's being used as an ungrounded (hot) conductor.

When hooking up the GFCI, make sure you use the LINE terminals. If you use the LOAD terminals, the device will not work.

Also, make sure you connect all the grounding conductors together, as well as to each device and any metal boxes.

  • Thank you very much! I will try this tonight and report back, i really appreciate your help!
    – Ron Jasin
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 18:34

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