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To replace Light Fixture - Do I really have to turn off all the power?

To replace Light Fixture - Do I really have to turn off all the power?

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  #1  
Old 01-16-07, 02:01 PM
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To replace Light Fixture - Do I really have to turn off all the power?

Hi. I'm just moving into a 70s apartment and want to get rid of the tragic gold chandelier in the kitchen area.

I'd rather not ask the landlord about changing the fixture, so am wondering if I can just turn off the light switch on the wall to replace the fixture.

I've replaced many lights in the house I'm currently in, but always turned off the power (because it was so easy to do, since I wouldn't be interrupting other people's power supply since I'm the only one here).

So, has anyone ever just turned off the light switch and replaced a fixture?

Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-16-07, 02:14 PM
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What someone else has done is not important. What is important is what is safe. Turning off the breaker is what is safe. If the switch is on the wrong leg or there are unswitched live connections in the box you could still have a dangerous situation.

All is moot though because tenants can not legally work on apartment wiring. No one here will advise you to take on that kind of liability.
 
  #3  
Old 01-16-07, 02:18 PM
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It can be done, but my advise is not to do it. Some circuits are "backfed" by other circuits and could cause a problem in the light box you will have your hands in. Even if it is an apartment, there should be a separate breaker panel for your unit, from which you can trip the appropriate breaker to kill the circuit. Please be safe. Do you have anything to test for the presence of electricity? If not, a $13 investment in what we call a tick tracer would be wise. You can buy them at the big box stores or at an electrical supply house.
 
  #4  
Old 01-16-07, 02:19 PM
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Never ever work on a circuit live, or potentially live. Always turn off the circuit breaker protecting a circuit (or remove the fuse) to do any work on the circuit.
 
  #5  
Old 01-16-07, 02:20 PM
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Yes I have, following these two steps: make certain the switch is off and put a piece of tape over it so no one, including you, accidentally turns it back on.; then, when the wiring at the fixture is exposed, check with a meter to insure you really have a dead circuit.

Changing fixtures or anything else in rental property without the landlord's blessing is not a good idea.
 
  #6  
Old 01-16-07, 02:28 PM
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Even with the switch off and no other circuits running through the junction box there may still be power in the box. If the switch is nothing but a switch loop then power exists in the box.

There is never a reason for a do-it-yourselfer to work live. Period.
 
  #7  
Old 01-17-07, 12:57 AM
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Thank you all for your replies! Much appreciated.

I went to pay my security deposit today, and was thrilled to notice that the suite actually had it's own little fuse box in the living room. (I think it held 5 fuses.)

So I'm assuming that solves my dilemna..... All power for the suite would be contained in that little fuse box, wouldn't it?

Thanks again.
 
  #8  
Old 01-17-07, 06:21 AM
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Yes, except for the civil and criminal liability you will assume by doing any work on the electrical system without license or permission. If there should be a fire, even if you feel it was unrelated to your work, you could be sued by the property owner and anyone else affected by the fire, and criminally prosecuted. If someone didn't make it out of the apartment building you could be charged with manslaughter.
 
  #9  
Old 01-17-07, 07:45 AM
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Hi Marie

May I offer this solution. First Bob is correct never work on a circuit using the switch to remove power, especially if you dont have an understanding of the wiring configuration. Use the fuse or breaker.
However in your situtation you should have someone else of authority approve and arrange to have your fixture installed. I guess thats the landlord. In general problems with landlords installing fixtures is that they dont want the cost of the fixture to fall on them. If you purchase the fixture I am confident the landlord will have their maintenance people install it for you or they will install it themselves if they are owner/landlords. If this is a problem for them then you are probably not going to be happy with the other services they provide as to the upkeep of the property. Try to keep the fixture reasonable by that I mean you can have issues with big heavy light fixtures as far as installing them. You can also have issues with old wiring, that makes installing new fixtures a bit of a pain and added labor or cost. Give the landlord a chance to be fair with you and see what happens.

Roger
 
  #10  
Old 01-18-07, 12:02 PM
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Thanks again for the advice. Much appreciated.
 
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