Whoever did work on my house always took short cuts and now I'm paying
the price. I wanted to replace a ceiling light in my kitchen with a
fan/light fixture. Upon taking down the old ceiling light, there was
no electrical box. It was screwed to the lathe in the ceiling plaster
with the wiring coming through a small hole. The same was true for
another ceiling light over a breakfast nook. I know this is against
code and a safety hazard.
Any ideas how to fix this problem without tearing out the ceiling to
install a box? I can't get to it from above as in an attic since it is
a two story house and the second floor bedrooms are above the fixtures.
I've seen an extensible brace that you install from below, through the
hole that you have to make to install a circular ceiling box. There is a
mechanism like a jam-up shower curtain rod that locks the brace between
the ceiling joists. I found the gadget at Home Depot, near the ceiling
Long answer: It is code-compliant in some areas to install fixtures
with "integrated junction boxes" without installing a box in the
ceiling or wall. Such fixtures include many types of fluorescent
lights, plus some strip-type lights as used over bathroom vanities and
kitchen counters. Also recessed pot lights.
I can't guess whether the old fixture was such a thing, or whether you
can find a new one of this type to your liking. You do need quite a bit
of sheathed cable available coming out of the ceiling to make this
work, as the cable needs to extend into the fixture.
Short answer: Failing the above, you need an "old-work ceiling box",
such as is shown here:
(which site I have no affiliation with.)
In either case, you need to make sure your new fan is a type that does
not depend on a braced junction box for support of its weight.
Go to HD and get one of the round electrical outlet boxes that are made
just for this. They have wings and bolts on them, similar idea to
toggle bolts. You cut a hole, slip the box in, then turn the bolts,
which swings the wings open and tighten them against the back of the
On my above reply, I overlooked that one of these is for a ceiling
fan/light. The std old work box is ok for this, but not for the
ceiling fan. Anywhere fans are sold you'll find hanger bars that are
used for this application. They get inserted through the hole and then
you tighten to expand them so they grip into two adjacent joists,
giving sufficient strength to hold the fan.
If your house is plaster/lathe, you are probably only just beginning to
uncover the magical wonders of the 'work' done over the decades.
If you are really concerned, I'd hire an electrician to come inspect
your entire house. But, on that note... you'd probably do well to also
hire a plumber to inspect that system, and a structural engineer to
come tell you about all the load bearing walls removed.
But back to your question.... putting in ceiling boxes is quite easily
accomplished.... the plaster bit can make it a little more time
consuming... but if you take your time and stay patient.. it can be
done without ruining your ceiling.
I'd advise you look around for an electrical book that covers wiring in
"Short answer: Failing the above, you need an "old-work ceiling box",
such as is shown here:
(which site I have no affiliation with.) "
Shame on you for recommending a plastic celing box!
No way would I habg a ceiling fan on something with plastic threads!
Use a metal box.
Yeah, the same fuckface that wanted to know why it wouldnt be ok to
wire 20 outlets to his bathroom light is going to criticize plastic
boxes. Hey scott - when you move out of your trailer... then you can
offer some comments. In the meantime, go back to designing power plants
or whatever the fuck it is you claim to do.
Perhaps I should have added a comment such as "In either case, you need
to make sure your new fan is a type that does not depend on a braced
junction box for support of its weight."
Tell you what, I'll go back to my posting and edit that comment in ...
there, done. Thanks!
you can always make a large circle out of wood paneling (or other
appropriate material) to hide where you had to tear up the area. looks
stylish too. ive done it twice and it saves hours of work and headache.
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