Installing boxes for ceiling fixtures


Old 07-17-06, 06:30 AM
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Suburb of Detroit
Posts: 283
Installing boxes for ceiling fixtures

Hi, I'm looking at buying a 10-year-old house here in SE Michigan. One problem I have is that none of the four bedrooms have ceiling light fixtures. They all have switched outlets, though, that the current owners use to control floor lamps.

I would like to have an electrician come in and install ceiling boxes and wire those to the switches. That means making the receptacles unswitched as well. Can someone briefly describe what's involved and how long such a job might take? All I need is the boxes installed, and I can install the fixtures. I think three bedrooms have attic access, but the master has a cathedral ceiling. I hope that doesn't mean the drywall has to be removed!

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Old 07-17-06, 06:51 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
In order to change from one or more switched receptacles to a ceiling light will require wiring changes at the switched receptacle and at the switch. Theses wiring changes are easy and take a few minutes.

What is sometimes not so easy is adding the new wires that must go from the ceiling box to the switch. I recommend that three conductor (plus ground) wiring be used here, to support a fan and a light, controlled separately. I recommend this even if you donít plan on installing a fan. Eventually you or someone else may want to install one. For this reason I also recommend that fan rated boxes be installed, again, regardless of what you intend to install for a light right now.

If there is sufficient attic or crawl space access, then running these new wires and installing the ceiling boxes is fairly straightforward.

However, the master bedroom with a cathedral ceiling is a different situation. You can expect there to be some drywall damage. The amount will depend on which way the joists run and on how many joists have to be drilled through and on where the switch is in relation to the location of the light. It may make sense in some situations to wire the new light from the switched receptacle.

An electrician with more experience may be able to need fewer holes in the drywall than an electrician with less experience.

I suggest that you get at least three estimates from electricians. Make sure that you know what the estimates include. Make sure they spell out separate wiring and boxes for a fan and that you know if drywall repair will be performed. Some electricians will not do drywall repair at all, others will if you push them, other will routinely do it. Be aware that a good electrician may not be a good drywaller. Also, some electricians may not want to leave the boxes open, but will insist on wiring in the fixtures, others will be happy to allow you to connect the fixtures.
Old 07-17-06, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 995
Originally Posted by jumpyg
I think three bedrooms have attic access, but the master has a cathedral ceiling. I hope that doesn't mean the drywall has to be removed!
Attic access (or basement) is the key component to even GUESSING how involved the project will be. Answer that one as thoroughly as possible first. The cathedral ceiling MAY still be possible, but certainly less likely. You may have to consider Wiremold if you insist on no wall repair.

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