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Old 12-07-2009, 08:55 PM   #1
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Crowded Light Box


Dear Electrical Experts:

I am replacing a wall fixture in a plaster wall in my circa 1915 home. Unfortunately, the previous fixture did not have a wall switch (it was controlled by a switch on the fixture itself). As a result, I am now installing a light fixture. In order to run the line from the fixture box to the (newly installed) wall switch box, I need some room in the box itself, but I am concerned that the attached box (picture attached below) is a bit too crowded as is. There a TON of wires in there, looks like two sets of 4 wires tied together with the red wire nuts. There are not ground wires as the boxes are grounded via the metal conduits (I believe). The black and white wires capped off with the yellow nuts were previously wired to the old fixture.

First off -- any idea on why there are so many wires in here? I know one is probably ingoing and one is outgoing. I'm guessing that means that the previous fixture was completing a circuit?

Second off -- is this box already overloaded? If not, I just need to one one more line to accomodate the switch? Will this be too much? If so, what are my options to expand this box?

http://img32.yfrog.com/i/lightfixtureboxmess.jpg/

Thanks,
Cap'n


Last edited by CaptChaos; 12-07-2009 at 08:57 PM. Reason: Resizing Picture
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:46 PM   #2
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Crowded Light Box


If you can open your hole size up, you can put a larger remodel box in and that would give you more space to work with. Just one idea , I'm sure you will get other opinions.

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Old 12-08-2009, 06:05 AM   #3
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Crowded Light Box


That was probably leagl way back when, but it is just plain unsafe now. As suggested above, replace with an old work box. Make sure everything is dead before moving wires, and MARK EVERYTHING BEFORE DISCONNECTING, OR YOU WILL BE BACK HERE ASKING HOW TO MAKE IT WORK.
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:29 AM   #4
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Will the new light cover the round space you have there? Could you get that box out of there and install a round cut-in box.The cut-inbox will look like the one on the bottom with the wings to hold it in place ese
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:42 AM   #5
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Thanks everyone - I am going to replace that electrical box today. I think that the fixture will cover the round box, so I will likely go for that.

One quick question -- do they make old work\remodel boxes in metal? I think getting a metal box is relatively important in my case to ground the metal conduit and with the plaster\lath wall a remodel box is going to be better.

Ok -- a Google looks like I should be ok:

http://homerepair.about.com/od/elect...bx_old_mtl.htm

The only pain with a circular box would be the need to cut an expanded whole in the lath, but not a big deal.

Thanks!
Cap'n
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptChaos View Post
Thanks everyone - I am going to replace that electrical box today. I think that the fixture will cover the round box, so I will likely go for that.

One quick question -- do they make old work\remodel boxes in metal? I think getting a metal box is relatively important in my case to ground the metal conduit and with the plaster\lath wall a remodel box is going to be better.

Ok -- a Google looks like I should be ok:

http://homerepair.about.com/od/elect...bx_old_mtl.htm

The only pain with a circular box would be the need to cut an expanded whole in the lath, but not a big deal.

Thanks!
Cap'n
I don't think that box is going to give you the room you need! Look at the cu in electrical box for box fill.

Last edited by 300zx; 12-08-2009 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:40 AM   #7
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Crowded Light Box


Back in the old days, it was not unusual to bring power to a box in the ceiling and branch off from there (octopus style) to all the receptacles in the room.

You may be able to find a ceiling light fixture that is large enough that some of the wires can spill out of the box onto the ceiling and be covered up by the fixture. But you may not string wires through a hole in the top plate of a light fixture, make the connections and splices within the fixture, and string the wires back out, up into the box to daisy chain elsewhere.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:59 AM   #8
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CaptChaos: I'm speaking from experience--My son bought a house built in 1921 some years back, with plaster walls, metal lath. During some remodeling we found exactly what you have, what I call "switch/receptacle boxes" used in the ceilings with more wire in them than I could have put in them. I changed the metal "switch/receptacle boxes" in the ceilings to plastic old-work ceiling boxes, like the one in the picture without the ring. I also added an extra box in the attic space to put some of those wires in so the newly added box was not so crowded. Cutting out the plaster and lath was not exactly easy but do-able. Be sure to secure your new, old-work to your existing ceiling joist for strength. Good Luck, David
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:08 PM   #9
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If this is bx cable then you cannot use plastic boxes. The box is grounded through the bx jacket. The old boxes tend to be small and are definitely overfilled by today's code. I would try to replace the existing box with a deep octagonal box. The box fill is calculated by the size of the conductors and the box size. Count all of the wires in the box and post back and we can help you figure out what you need.
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:25 PM   #10
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Is this a wall or ceiling? If its a ceiling then you could use a fan brace box or make your own brace with a 2x4 nailed between the joist and then screw your metal box to it.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
You may be able to find a ceiling light fixture that is large enough that some of the wires can spill out of the box onto the ceiling and be covered up by the fixture. But you may not string wires through a hole in the top plate of a light fixture, make the connections and splices within the fixture, and string the wires back out, up into the box to daisy chain elsewhere.
Thanks Allan. In my case, this is a wall fixture, not a ceiling. I believe that I have found a box large enough to accommodate the wires that will be covered up by my new light fixture.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:37 PM   #12
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Hi Teamo -- I have a total of 8 wires coming in, plus 2 pigtails to the fixture itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teamo View Post
If this is bx cable then you cannot use plastic boxes. The box is grounded through the bx jacket. The old boxes tend to be small and are definitely overfilled by today's code. I would try to replace the existing box with a deep octagonal box. The box fill is calculated by the size of the conductors and the box size. Count all of the wires in the box and post back and we can help you figure out what you need.

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