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Safety Questions about Replacing Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans in Older Home


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10-11-17, 08:53 PM   #1 (permalink)  
Safety Questions about Replacing Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans in Older Home

Hello,

We're in the process of getting a new ceiling (1/2" drywall) installed over our existing ceiling due to some issues with the old ceiling. Since I had to take down two existing flush mount light fixtures and two existing ceiling fans prior to the ceiling work being done, I thought it'd be a good time to replace the light fixtures and fans with newer ones that we like better than what had been installed. In reading the instructions for the lights and fans, I came across two things that concern me from a safety standpoint:

1). The warning in the light fixture manual about installing the fixture to a home older than 1985, as most homes older than that with original electrical wiring will have wiring that's not rated for modern fixtures (60 degrees C prior to 1985 vs. 90 degrees C after that). My home was built in 1957, and I'd be surprised to learn that the wiring was ever redone (or at least after 1985). From what I gather, this is less of a concern if using lower wattage bulbs, such as CFL or LED in the fixtures. I've been using CFL bulbs in the old light fixtures and intended to do the same with the new ones. The wiring concern also applies to the ceiling fans, but I'm replacing the previously flush mount fans with fans with short downrods, and based on what I'd seen, the 60/90 concern is at least lessened for non-flush mounted fixtures such as the new fans.

2). Most of the junction boxes I've come across in this home do not have a separate grounding wire, and at least some of the boxes are plastic, so I won't be able to properly ground the lights and fans. From what I read, my impression is that isn't too much of a concern for the lights since they're not operated by actually touching them (just via the connected switch), but the fans on the other hand are occasionally touched when adjusting the fan speed or turning on/off the fan light without affecting the fan.

The attached picture of the wood structure with the electrical wires inside the slit are what one of the two previous ceiling fans had been attached to, and I had intended to put the new ones in the same spot. The other two pictures are of the junction boxes where I intend to install the flush mount light fixtures.

Anyway, I wanted to run these concerns by anyone more knowledgeable on these matters than I am prior to starting the installations to ensure my understanding is correct and to see what I should do (or not do). Based on the information I've provided, am I running serious risk installing these items (i.e. burning the house down or getting shocked), and if so, what can be done to address the safety concern(s)? Unfortunately, having the house rewired is not an option from a financial standpoint, but safety is obviously of the utmost importance. Thanks in advance for any help and suggestions you can provide - I'd certainly appreciate it.

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Last edited by PJmax; 10-12-17 at 07:25 PM. Reason: cropped/enhanced pics
 
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10-11-17, 10:12 PM   #2 (permalink)  
In your first picture it looks like aluminum wire based on the ground wire. Is that correct?

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I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.

 
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10-12-17, 05:29 AM   #3 (permalink)  
Hello,

I have installed light fixtures before, so that's not what my questions concern. I'm more interested in the potential safety concerns I outlined in my initial post.

 
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10-12-17, 05:40 AM   #4 (permalink)  
Ray,

In the picture, it definitely does look like aluminum wire, but that is actually a stringy type material (it's definitely not a wire of any kind). I don't know it something was snipped and that was the result, but the only two wires I see are a black one and a creamish colored one. I assume the cream colored one is equivalent to the white wire in other boxes.

 
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10-12-17, 08:18 AM   #5 (permalink)  
It is typical for the white to discolor with age and heat to a tan.
what wiring method is used in the metal boxes?
Installing a fixture that calls for 90 degree wiring on older systems is a code violation and can create a hazard including fire. It is lessened by low heat fixtures or one where the fixture is not tight to the ceiling.

 
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10-12-17, 09:44 AM   #6 (permalink)  
Thanks pcboss. I'm not sure I understand your question of the wiring method of the metal boxes. One of the boxes where I had intended to install the light fixtures is a plastic box, and the other one (the one in the first picture) appears to be metal. The light fixtures attach black wires to black wires, whites to whites and ground to ground; unfortunately neither of these two boxes appear to have a ground wire.

 
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10-12-17, 12:47 PM   #7 (permalink)  
Is wa trying to find out if the old wiring was AC , aka BX cable, early NM or something else.

 
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10-12-17, 01:11 PM   #8 (permalink)  
Oh, I see. How would I be able to tell that?

 
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10-12-17, 01:30 PM   #9 (permalink)  
You could look near the panel. You also may be able to tell by looking at the end of the wiring as it enters the box.

 
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10-12-17, 07:27 PM   #10 (permalink)  
The first two picture are using two wire cloth covered NM cable.
Can't tell what the third picture is using. You would need to pull that wire down slightly to see the jacket.

I don't see any fan rated box in use.


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10-12-17, 09:49 PM   #11 (permalink)  
Thanks - I'll pull the wires down from the wood structure (in the third picture) and take another one and upload. In the meantime, are the wires in the first two pictures suitable for 90 C fixtures or only 60 C? I'm guessing the latter.

 
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10-13-17, 04:59 AM   #12 (permalink)  
Here are two pictures of the two wires coming from where the ceiling fan had previously been held in hopes you can identify them. Are you saying this wood structure isn't suitable for supporting a ceiling fan? I realize this doesn't mean it was correct, but it previously held a fam for the past four and a half years without issue. Thanks in advance for your help.

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