how to remove ceiling junction box from below?

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I have read several articles online about installing a ceiling fan in place of an existing light. Seems like a straightforward job.
However, the first thing I need to do is replace the existing plastic j-box with a metal one rated for ceiling fans. Seems simple enough, except for one thing: how am I supposed to get the original box out of the ceiling?!
Since I don't have access to the box from an attic, I can't tell from below how the box is mounted. I assume it's nailed into the joists, but this is an old, old home, and nothing about it is standard. Is there any trick to removing the old box? I guess I could cut a larger hole in the drywall and patch it up when finished, but I would prefer not to do that if a less-messy option is available. I'm also not opposed to taking a sawzall around the outer perimeter of the box (being careful not to cut the wire), but I would prefer not to do that as well.
Any thoughts?
Thanks. Joseph
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Joseph O'Brien wrote:

Plastic box? Cut the plastic or swiss-cheese it with a drill.
If you must cut out a metal brace use the finest tooth Sawzall blade.
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There are a number of types of plastic ceiling boxes. If there are visible screws or rivets inside the box, unscrew them or drill them out. This should allow the box to drop. Then you will be able to see the metal bracket and cut it with a sawzall. If there are no visible screws or rivets inside the box, it is probably attached to the side of the beam via captive nails. This type of box can be removed by using the butt of a hammer or similar, and punching it up into the ceiling until the nails pull out. Then remove the cable from the box and slide the box out of the existing hole or discard it inside the ceiling

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Joseph O'Brien wrote:

Just grab any protruding part of the plastic with visegrips and twist...repeat as needed until all the bits are on the floor. Total elsapsed time about a minute. A journeyman can probably do it in 15 seconds. There aren't any clamps imvolved, so crunching the plastic with the visegrips will free your wires. Be creative in removing screws or nails and if the mounting board or whatever is sound, use it for your Raco 7120 if you like plastic (ugh!) or Raco 290x metal series if you prefer something stronger. HTH
Joe
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On Sat, 14 Jul 2007 12:38:09 -0700, Joseph O'Brien

Have you picked out a fan yet? I haven't done this but what is the size of the ceiling part of the fan compared to the current box in the ceiling. Might it be bigger?
Remember that fans don't cool the air. They only give a breeze, or so.
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of wisdom:

Oh, wait, fans make a breeze? I thought it was mostly just for decoration and hanging stuff.
Of course I know fans don't cool the air. That's what we have A/C for.
Joe, RBM, Speedy Jim, thanks for contributing. I hadn't actually thought about manhandling the box out of the ceiling. I will try to pound it out first, and if that doesn't work, I'll cut it out.
Thanks again. Joseph.
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-- Joe, RBM, Speedy Jim, thanks for contributing... -- Joseph.
Hey mm, I think ya'll been dissed!
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wrote:

Yeah, the guy's an insecure jerk. Anyone who wasn't would just have been grateful that I tried to help him.
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Hmm. No, I wasn't dissing everyone. Joe, RBM, and Speedy Jim actually gave me some helpful advice, for which I thanked them. I followed their recommendations, and was able to remove the box fairly easily. First, I beat it with a hammer until it bent up towards the ceiling. Eventually, the box split (glad I didn't hang a fan from it), so from there, it was a combination of cutting away the excess plastic and pulling out the nails. Overall, it was a fairly easy job. Having never seen one of the new installation boxes from above, though, I wasn't sure how they were attached, but it all makes sense now.
MM, maybe I misinterpretted your answer, but I thought you were being a smart alec with the "fans don't cool comment." Figured you were jabbing at me for not knowing how to remove the box. Guess I was wrong about that.
Sorry, and thanks. Joseph.
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On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 10:16:51 -0700, Joseph O'Brien

Even if that line had been smart-alecky, I gave you good advice in the first paragraph. Later I looked at two pages of images and the images did not allow direct comparsion, but at least a few fans seem to have bigger ceiling things than most boxes.

I was suggesting you could enlarge the hole if the fan would cover a bigger hole.
More than once people here have seemed to expect to much from fans, and someone hase commented on it, pointing out the very same thing that fans don't cool the room, they actually add heat. I am dubious of the value of ceiling fans compared to table fans and other things, but I chose not to second-guess your judgement, which struck me as more nearly rude, and only deal with facts.

And I guess you're not a jerk.

You're welcome. Everything is fine now.
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---- Guess I was wrong about that.
-- And I guess you're not a jerk.
---- Sorry, and thanks. Joseph.
-- You're welcome. Everything is fine now.
Hey, you guys aren't gonna start kissing or anything are ya? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
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replying to DerbyDad03, TC wrote:

So if I can tear the old one out, how do I get a new one in? The old one has 2 screw holes on one side and standard 1 on other side.
I'm trying to mount a recessed light that has nothches to fit only 1 on each side. so need to put a new box in.
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On Wed, 09 Oct 2013 15:44:01 +0000, TC

https://www.google.com/search?q=cut%20in%20ceiling%20box&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=np&source=hp
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On 10/09/2013 02:40 PM, Metspitzer wrote:

I'd just use an old-work ceiling fan box, myself, in case you ever want to hang a fan in that room you don't have to go back in. Assuming of course this is a wood framed house.
http://www.lowes.com/pd_73178-427-936_0__
Also, if there is no always hot wire in the box currently, you may want to repull the cable from the switch, e.g. if it's 14/2WG repull with 14/3WG. You may need to bust the switch box out of the wall and replace that with an old work box as well if you do that. I know that this is a lot of work so if you know that you're never going to put a fan in that room ignore me, but it is a nice option. I think it helped sell my last house when I told the prospective buyers that two out of three bedrooms were ready for ceiling fans.
For some reason only the last two posts are showing up on my news server so I don't have context, what do you mean by "recessed light?" Maybe you don't want a standard octagon box after all.
nate
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On Wednesday, October 9, 2013 3:27:05 PM UTC-4, Nate Nagel wrote:

This is a little weird, since it appears from the dating that TC replied to a post from DerbyDad from 6 years ago.
But, I agree with you Nate. If it's a box for a light fixture, he can put in an old work box, but he needs to make sure he buys one that is rated for use to hold a light fixture. The cheapest, plastic ones with ears, I don't believe are rated for that use.
If he has any possible desire for a fan there, he could prepare for that with a box rated for such use.
And I don't understand the reference to a recessed fixture either. The recessed fixtures I've worked with did not use a separate box. The connection box was part of the recessed fixture itself.
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On Wednesday, October 9, 2013 3:43:29 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

TC is posting from the Moaners Hub. Nuff said about that.
On to the new box. Ceiling fans require SECURE mounting unless you want a g iant sparking propeller to drop on your dining table during a family dinner .
There are special mounting kits available for ceiling fans that can be inst alled through the old box hole. It consists of an expanding bar with cleats on the end. You slip the bar up in the hole, turn it so it's flat to the c eiling and perpendicular to the joists, and unscrew it until the cleats are firmly seated in the joists.
Then, you hang the box from the bar.
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replying to dennisgauge , TC wrote:
yes weird, the old post came up in a google search so just added on to it. glad it worked.
Moaners Hub?
so, there was a flush mount light installed at location above sink. It stopped working so I had to remove it and once it was out, liked the open space look. So decided to look into a type of lighting that would be more flush with the ceiling than standard globe lighting.
Came across a light at Home Depot that was in recessed/can lights section. Designed so that base fits right into a round plastic box with notches to accommodate the screw locations, but the box I still have in place has different screw configurations. See photos.
Need to install a different style box, but concerned about taking the old one out using methods stated in earlier posts. If I rip it out can I get a new one back in its place? Maybe one with the side clamps would be ok.
Hope that helps clear things up, photos attached. click to open the full size version of the image
click to open the full size version of the image
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On Wednesday, October 9, 2013 7:44:01 PM UTC-4, TC wrote:

Those boxes both seem to have holes in the same places to me. I've yet to come across a light fixture that didn't work with the screw holes in existing boxes and that existing box you have doesn't look unusual to me.
I still don't understand how a recessed light can just attach to a box like that. How can it be recessed? You have a link to the product?
And for sure, you're not going to get that new side nail box that you posted in without opening up the ceiling. They make old work boxes that have ears or expansion widgets on the side so they can go into a whole in the ceiling about the size you have. But I think until we see what it is that you want to install, and better yet the instructions, we're just shooting in the dark.

I think the likelihood of getting that old box out without screwing up the ceiling is small. And if you're going to screw the ceiling, might as well just open up a section of drywall. Especially if it's just it's own small 2' x 4' section over a sink and not the main ceiling.
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On 10/09/2013 08:59 PM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Every time I've had to take a box out, it seems that it's been in a wall or ceiling with a comb/sand finish or something like that. So I've become rather good at knocking boxes out without disturbing the wall...
nate
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replying to Nate Nagel , TC wrote:
To those of you responding with helpful advice, here is pic of light and description from Home Depot site. It is designed to slip inside the box with the 2 screw posts pointing in.
\"The Disk Light can be installed in an existing recessed can or wherever a 4 in. junction box is installed - making it extremely versatile for both retro-fit and new installation.\"
The light is new from Home Depot. I may just try to bang out the old box.
Thanks for the help all. Oh and Derby Daddy, do you post any useful advice or just read posts and provide worthless commentary?
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