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Old 01-30-2012, 11:58 PM   #1
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New light fixture in old house issues


My house was build in 1970. I just tried installing a new fixture and failed. The old ground wire from the junction box is twice the size of the new copper ground, is caked with what I suspect is paint, and looks like aluminum. In fact all the wiring for the house is at least twice the size of the new wires available today.

The old ceiling fixture was apparently not grounded since the ground was just pushed up in the junction box. It is okay to clean the old ground wire and wind around the green screw and connect the two with a wire nut? Or just not connect the old ground?

Any help appreciated since what I thought was a simple task has turned into a headache.


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Old 01-31-2012, 12:08 AM   #2
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New light fixture in old house issues


Back in the 70's it was common to see aluminum wiring. Once they figured out it corroded and caused loose connections they went back to copper.
Your going to need differant high dollar special wire nuts to connect the wires and a tube of Nolox. Any hardware store, Lowes or Home Depot will have them.
Are the outlet just two pronged or are they three? If there just two then there is no ground to connect to.

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Old 01-31-2012, 04:12 AM   #3
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New light fixture in old house issues


The purple wire nuts can be bought at an electrical supply house and come with the no-lox type stuff already in them
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:44 AM   #4
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New light fixture in old house issues


shyone2051, if you home has AL wiring I would STRONGLY suggest NOT touching anything electrical. Leave it to the pros.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:47 AM   #5
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New light fixture in old house issues


check the hot for the light to ground and the metal mounting box in the ceiling to verify it is grounded back
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:19 AM   #6
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New light fixture in old house issues


Your new light fixtures may require 90 degree C rated insulation. With wiring from the 70's you will not have the 90 degree insulation and should not use the new fixtures.

There are work-arounds, but they involve some re-wiring.
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Old 01-31-2012, 11:30 AM   #7
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New light fixture in old house issues


Thanks for the all the advice.

I took down 3 more flush ceiling lights and in all 3 the old AL grounds were just capped with wire nuts and shoved back into the junction box. All the lights have updated junction boxes so an electrician was obviously here at some point. he light fixtures themselves are newish since I've seen the same fixtures at the Big Box stores.

I did know enough to use the high end purple wire nuts to connect the hot and neutral wires in the one I attempted last night.

Is it okay for me to just cap the old AL grounds, or is this a code violation? ( I live in CO )

I changed the 3 kitchen fixtures (in an updated kitchen) a year ago with no issues although the AL wires were already spliced with newer wires, but the grounds there were also just capped and not affixed to the fixtures I changed.

I have done the rest of the remodel to the bathroom myself and being stymied by a few light fixtures feels a bit like a failure.

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