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jtm2300 07-30-2007 11:30 PM

Trying to replace wall mounted light fixture
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Here's the situation: A light fixture was mounted on a wall in a room of the house I recently moved into, and this light fixture was controlled by a switch on the same wall. I wanted to replace this light fixture with a new one, and in the process of removing it from the wall I discovered that it was merely screwed directly to a stud without using an electrical box. Whoever installed it made a hole in the wall and ran the wiring inside the wall down to an outlet directly below it. This wire was connected to the screws on the outlet. Upon removing the fixture, the wire that connected it to the outlet fell behind the wall, and I ended up having to pull it through the hole for the outlet in order to remove it.

I know absolutely nothing about wiring or home improvement in general (other than replacing light fixtures which I have been successful at, at least once before). But when I explain this configuration to more knowledgeable people, they say that installing the new light fixture and having it controlled by the switch would require tearing down the wall. When inspecting the outlet, they say it is not even connected to the switch at all. Also, I'm told the switch never controlled the outlet, just the light.

Now, could the configuration I described above have resulted in the proper operation of the light with the switch, and if so, is it possible to somehow install the new light fixture and have it operated by the switch without having to tear down the wall? Let me know if I can clarify anything.

Please note this is in an older house (built in the 1960s?). Thanks in advance

JohnJ0906 07-31-2007 06:38 PM

Does the swich control the outlet? If not, how could the swich control a light wired directly from the swich?

If the swich DOES control the outlet, you can re-fish the wire up the wall, get a round "pancake" box, recess it into the drywall and screw it to the stud, and mount the new light on that.

A "pancake box" is a 3 1/2" or 4" round box, very shallow, so it can be screwed to a stud and still be flush with the drywall.

jtm2300 07-31-2007 11:08 PM

You've got me...but I just tried plugging something into the outlet and the switch definitely does not control the outlet. That's why I can't understand how the light could have been wired such that it could be controlled by the switch but connected to an outlet that is not controlled by that switch.

How else could it have been wired behind the wall to function the way I described?

Since I now have an ugly hole in the wall and a switch that apparently doesn't do anything, is it worth removing the switch cover to try and see what it is connected to? What should I look for?

HouseHelper 08-01-2007 06:22 AM

Did you check both receptacles of the duplex? Usually only the top or bottom is switched.

boman47k 08-03-2007 09:44 PM


but I just tried plugging something into the outlet and the switch definitely does not control the outlet.
Did it have power top and bottom? Is the little piece that connects the top and bottom of the duplex rec broken? That would indicate only half of duplex is switched as was mentioned. Why go in the attic and see if you can drill a hole through the top plate above the fixture and above the switch location then tie them in. Actually that would depend on where the power is fed from/to. Not an electrician, just a sometimes knowlegable diy'er.

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