How do I install an old work box?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by michdaley, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. michdaley

    michdaley New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Maryland
    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. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,021
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    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.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,262
    Location:
    New England
    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.
  5. Ford2001

    Ford2001 New Member

    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    Manchester, Vermont
    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. michdaley

    michdaley New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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. iminaquagmire

    iminaquagmire DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    207
    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.
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