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jbcurrier 11-24-2010 04:10 PM

Hanging an overhead fixture
Hi there, I am aware this is supposed to be easy, but I have spend hours and have finally come upon a hurdle that I am not sure how to overcome.

I have a plastic electrical box in the ceiling, and it has two holes with which you can attach your fixture. The old fixture was attached that way via screws (bolts really I guess) that did not go all the way in but protruded through the fixture into keyhole slots.

New fixture had a strap included and 4 of these nutless bolts, 2 long and two shorter. The strap has on it two long slots and a screw for the grounding wire in case you didn't have one floating around I suppose, which I did not, so I grounded the copper wire from the fixture to this. Not sure it does any good with a plastic electrical box actually.

I have all the things put together and the fixture works, but I cannot hang it. I ASSUMED that it hung like the other one. We all know about assumptions. After struggling for a long time I finally got out a rule and discovered that the holes on my electric box are 3.5" apart, and those on the fixture are 3" apart. Therefore, can't use the same screws without drilling new holes (not a nice thought to me). I took some handy bolts (with nuts), put them though the slot (the nut keeping them from falling out) and hooked the fixture to that after a lot of effort. It is not the least bit secure, but quite wobbly as I can't tighten the bolts up. It does keep the fixture from hanging by the wires which seemed like a good idea. This is where I am at the moment. I am hoping someone knows of something I can do that is within my capabilities. Installing a new box is not something I would try -- particularly on this fixture (it is switched in a complicated manner).

Any ideas? I love the page I found saying it was trivial to just follow the manufacturers suggestions. I even took the page to my local and usually very helpful hardware store, but got no brilliant "this is what you need". He did say to take the fixture down and perhaps someone could offer me a suggestion -- might have to do that after Thanksgiving if I can't find a solution. I'm afraid the man I talked to had never hung a fixture. It seems it should be easy, and I really think trying to get screws through that insulation and into the holes is non-trivial, though perhaps easier if the distance is correct.

Thanks -- you'd never know my deceased husband was an electrician, or perhaps you would, as he would just do these things and I didn't have to. I am trying to get handy though.


heartlessmcfly 11-24-2010 04:58 PM

Hi judy, what kind of fixture is it? Is it a flush mount or like a chandalier? The strap that u are talking about is approx. 4" long, is metal, and has to long slots in it with a green ground screw? If so, this is ur mounting bracket. The shorter screws hold this onto the box. The longer screws (assuming it is a flush mount) would go thru the bracket (should be 2 other screw holes in it) and the fixture should mount to this. If possible, take some pics as it would be ez'r to help u.

jbcurrier 11-24-2010 05:48 PM

The fixture is a flush mount fixture.

The bracket is 3.5 inches long. Okay the short screws were to attach to the holes not as it was before I guess where they served a dual purpose (maybe whoever installed it had the same problem). I don't see any holes on the bracket itself that these longer screws go through, there are a couple of little ones but they were too narrow for the screws/bolts that came with it. Perhaps I have some around that would fit, but I guess their heads would be too small. Maybe I could have the heads up above and then just use a nut to keep the fixture on. There's a thought, but I remember the holes as being very small.

I will get up there tomorrow and measure if any are the appropriate distance apart and take pictures. Thanks for responding!


heartlessmcfly 11-24-2010 05:56 PM

1 Attachment(s)
The bracket look similiar to this?

emolatur 11-24-2010 06:11 PM

The fixture strap (little metal strip that screwed to the old box, and the light screwed into it) should have a set of holes whose spacing matches that of the fixture.

If not, you have the wrong strap for the fixture.

jbcurrier 11-24-2010 06:25 PM

The bracket actually has two long slots in the center (can't find my camera at the moment) but that is definitely the idea of what I am looking at.

However, I went downstairs after the first post and I it does have two holes that will take the shorter bolts provided (perhaps the longer ones also), they looked way too small to me, but I can screw a bolt into them. I measured, and those two holes are the right distance apart.

It was too dark for me to see well enough to hang it or to switch bolts. I have the old ones (from the old fixture) in the holes and they were long as they were used to both bolt to the box and bolt on the fixture. The new ones dropped out of the holes in the box which is why I switched. Now perhaps the short ones will work, they seemed the same size to me, but perhaps not. Anyhow I can't see well enough to unscrew what I have in there so I will wait until I have more light on the matter. If I can attach the fixture with the shorter bolts that would be easiest. I guess without that bracket flush against the ceiling box it could be a little floppy though.

Thanks, I will report back on my misadventures!


heartlessmcfly 11-24-2010 06:31 PM

On the bracket, the small holes...take the long screws and start them in the holes. The short screws mount the bracket to the box. Wire the fixture up. When you go to install the light, the light should have like a keyhole slot. Push the fixture up on the bigger part of the keyhole and twist till the screws hit the shallow end. Tighten up the screws and ur done (except for the glass finish part).

jbcurrier 11-25-2010 11:13 AM


Thank you all. I know I would have just spun around in frustration without your help.

The secret was the little screws in the box and the long ones to hang. Sounds stupid that I couldn't figure that out, I was just sort of following what was there before. It even hung easier with the proper screws there!

Only problem I ran into was one of the screws fell out of the box but I had brought up some extra and apparently what I had chosen was a tiny bit bigger. It looked the same to me, but it tightened up nicely. I was about ready to shove a toothpick in the hole, but didn't know whether that was a legitimate fix on plastic.

When I look back on this year, I really have fixed a lot of things that many I know won't touch. It would have been impossible, though, without people like you who are willing to help without saying "what an idiot!". I'll say it myself, but it is nice that others don't. Hopefully the little lessons I am learning will generalize into an ability to figure out how things go together. I have always been poor at that, and I must learn it.


heartlessmcfly 11-25-2010 11:19 AM

What an idiot. Jk, any questions, just ask. We r here to help and congrats on the project!

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