The only outlet in my bathroom is in an old, porcelain light fixture
(house built 1932). I'd like to replace it, but am unable to find such
a fixture. Does this mean I need to replace the fixture with a sconce
and have an outlet installed elsewhere? Any idea what an electrician
might charge for something like this?
If you like the light fixture and want an outlet then thats what you
should do. If you want to replace the light, find one you like and do
not use a built in outlet as a decision factor. If your new light
doesn't have an outlet then its no big deal to add one (Usually).
Where are you located? It could cost anywhere from $60 to $300 to do
this job plus the cost of any new fixtures.
Is there a light switch on the wall as you walk in (or elsewhere)? Does it
control the light fixture you mentioned? If yes to both questions, you can
replace it yourself with a slightly different thing that's got a switch on
one side, which travels left to right instead of up & down, and an outlet
right next to it. It fits into the same internal wall box, but requires a
different wall plate. Probably costs about four bucks, with plate. Get a
book on basic wiring from the library or one of the home centers. The wiring
for such a switch isn't tricky at all, but the book will help you understand
what the various wire colors do, and how to use connectors. Also buy an
inexpensive test light, so you be sure the wires are really dead after
you've pulled the fuse or shut off the circuit breaker. If this plan works,
you can change the wall fixture to anything you want.
Pay attention to the book, make sure there's nobody pestering and
distracting you, and you should be able to do this without blowing your hair
We're all assuming that you no longer want one of those porcelain fixtures.
Is that true? If you DO want another, you can get them at home centers &
hardware stores for four or five bucks, with an outlet in them. But they're
If this bathroom on the first floor? If yes, the wire to the wall fixture
might come up from the basement, instead of down from who-knows-where. If
this is the case, it's a fairly simple job to run a wire from there to the
wall switch. Not VERY simple, but "less of a nightmare than some other
You're right - it is SO ugly. And it's useless in terms of lighting.
I think my best bet is to purchase a new fixture and have a
professional install it, in addition to an outlet. I'm handy, but I
don't do electricity! I'm just hoping it won't cost me a lot.
Oh come on...be brave. I won't work inside a fuse box or breaker panel, but
wiring's not such a big deal. Turn off the breaker, double check with a test
light or volt meter (not expensive), and you're in business. You probably
own most of the tools already, assuming you haven't been using your
screwdrivers as pry tools.
No guts, no glory!
Ugly? Hey, down Maine they say "Pretty is as pretty does." If you want
to save money, they still make ones like you have now, but I don't think
they do them in porcelain anymore. Try this for example:
Your house may be so old that there isn't even a ground lead available
for connection to the ground pin on that socket, so maybe better if
you'd use this one:
But in ANY case, since it's in a bathroom, you really should check and
make sure that the circuit feeding it is coming from a GFI circuit
breaker. If you don't happen to know what that is, Puhleeze FIND OUT,
the life you save could be your own. (Where did I hear thatfirst?)
On 14 Nov 2005 10:07:19 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
This is complicated by the presence of the outlet, which may be spot
welded to part of the bulb socket. But maybe it's not. If not, you
may well be able to find the bulb-socket complete with chain (a short
one) at a hardware store.
Usually they sell the guts separately, but if you have to buy the guts
along with the brass? cover, you can just the use the guts.
If the socket and outlet are attached to each other, you might be able
to use tinsnips to but off the the light socket and then solder the
new socket to the old outlet. I can't quite recall how these look
inside, but try to leave some overlapping metal (copper) so that you
can solder or otherwise attach the old outlet to the new socket,
either the way it was done in the first place, or possibly just with a
couple wires. (Wires will certainly work electrically, but I'm
thinking the outlet won't have anything keeping it in place unless it
is stll attached to the socket, but it's been decades since I've
looked at something like this.
BTW, there are junk yards for old houses. I first saw one just
across the Connecticut line, just off I-95 leaving NY. In 1974. I
think there are more now in many parts of the country. I would think
there would be something on the web. But you probably have to take
your old one off the wall, disconnect it and look inside, to see what
you need to do or buy.
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
I'd suggest getting the professional electrician, if only just for the
GFCI issue. Lot's of the old bathroom fixtures had outlets for a
shaver or a hair dryer on them. Apparently you have one of these.
Problem is that if you dropped your appliance into the sink, you could
You will probably need to install a GFCI, either locally in the
bathroom outlet, or in the circuit serving the bathroom.
I think you are potentially offering misleading if not dangerous
First, there is no guarantee at all that the switch has the necessary
wires (hot, neutral, ground). Depending on how it is wired it may have
just hot and potentially not even a ground given the age of the
house. You may well need to pull up other wires from the basement.
Second, bathroom outlets need to be GFI protected and I am not sure
that they make a GFI switch/socket combo (and if they do it certainly
costs more than $4).
Unless you understand all the above, including code requirements, you
shouldn't be playing with this. Not that it is hard, just that it is
not as straightforward as this poster naively suggests.
Electricity can kill -- please do not give dumb advice that breaks
code and can cause injury to others!
Not logical. If the OP was able to post a question, the OP can read. If the
OP can read, he can determine if he's about to get in over his head. If it
turns out he's not able to determine his limitations, nature (or the fire
department) will point this out to him. There are people in this NG who are
not electricians, are able to wire most anything, but at some point in the
past were as inexperienced as he OP.
I have no issue with the OP.
The problem is with the misleading and more likely false advice you
gave where you:
- Assumed that there are 3 wires in the switch box (unlikely
- Neglected to mention GFI requirement and in fact suggested a
solution that is not directly compatible with GFI
You're right - I should've mentioned the GFI. As far as 3 wires, I told him
to read. I understand that for some people, getting a library card is a
monumental task, and reading a book is tantamount to brain surgery, but it
*is* possible to do.
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