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Thread: How do I install an old work box?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member michdaley's Avatar
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    Default How do I install an old work box?

    I am replacing my light fixture on my bathroom wall. When I took the old light off I noticed the wires just came out of the wall, nothing surrounding it, just a hole. I have a stud right next to the wires. Dont I need to have something surrounding the wires for safety? I dont know much about electrical but that didnt seem safe to me. What would be the proper box to put in there? I know if I install one the light will be off center, Im assuming that is why the wires come directly out of the wall, how should I handle this situation? I thank you for your help.

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor Jim Port's Avatar
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    Your fixture may have had the box built into the fixture. If not a box should have been used.

    To solve the off-center problem you could install a 1/2" deep pancake box screwed to the stud.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    It depends on the light fixture. If there is room inside it, you can mount a "pancake" box to the stud and fasten the light to it. Or you can cut out the plaster or drywall, and recess the pancake box so it is flush with the wall surface.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    How was the fixture attached to the wall? Normally, fixtures are attached to a box. You could install an old work box in the wall if there is enough clearance to the stud exactly where you want it but it requires the wall to be in good condition.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member partimer 31's Avatar
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    Did you get any instruction on how to installed this luminaire. If so following the instructions. The other's have given you good advice. True, not all luminaires need to attach to a fixture
    box. Work safe, and good luck with this project.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member michdaley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    How was the fixture attached to the wall? Normally, fixtures are attached to a box. You could install an old work box in the wall if there is enough clearance to the stud exactly where you want it but it requires the wall to be in good condition.
    The light fixture was attached to the one stud, its just a wire literally coming out of a hole in the wall. The wire was ran up from my basement through a hole in my bathroom floor up, into and back out of the wall. I put my fingers in there to feel around and all I feel is the insulation. Should I try to install an old work box which I think will make the light off center or go with the pancake box or would I need both in this situation? Another question, why would someone install the fixture with no box? Is that common? I thank you again for your help!

  7. #7

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    Some light fixtures serve as the junction box themselves and don't need a box in the wall. You can either replace the light with one that works the same, put in a pancake box if it needs to be attached to the stud, or put in an old work box. The old work box can either be a plastic one or a metal one. They have ears that fold out and tighten to the drywall as you tighten the screws they are attached to, or you can just use a box and madison bar hangers.
    I consider myself an accomplished DIY'er. I don't know everything but help where I can. I'm not a pro, but like to think I'm professional.

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