no clue how to hook up ceiling light fixture

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  #1  
Old 08-24-04, 04:53 PM
uh-oh
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Question no clue how to hook up ceiling light fixture

I just bought my first home and am replacing a hideous light fixture in the dining room, and my husband wants to kill me for trying to do it myself, since I evidently don't know what I'm doing.
That said, I made the big mistake of not noting what the previous connections were. There are two wires with cloth insulation coming out of the ceiling, and I can tell no difference between them. The new fixture is a small chandelier with 3 wires: a ribbed/blank, a smooth/printed, and a plain copper. With the last fixture, the copper wire was screwed to the junction box.
Question # 1: What do I connect to what?

The old light fixture is heavier than the new one, but the junction box seems a little unsturdy. One side is starting to come a little bit below the level of the ceiling, and the plaster is chipping a bit when I'm up there.
Question # 2: Does this sound okay/normal?

After an evening of frustration in the dark I gave up and used the plastic screw caps that came with the fixture the cover the ends of the wires in the ceiling and used a bit of electrical tape to keep them on, then tucked them back into the ceiling, and turned the fuse back on.
Question # 3: Is this Safe??

Please help me out here, because I don't know where to go next, and I'm tired of having a dark dining room and constantly worrying I'll burn the house down.
Thanks so much, Liz.
 
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  #2  
Old 08-24-04, 05:24 PM
J
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Of course you already know that this would have been ten times easier if you'd recorded the connections before removing the old fixture. But alas...

Go to your home center and spend $15 on a voltage tick tester. With power on, hold the tip of the tester near each of the two wires from the ceiling. One of the two will make the tester flash and chirp, and the other won't. Shut off the breaker and connect the chirping wire to the smooth wire from your chandelier, and the non-chirping wire to the ribbed wire from your chandelier. Attach the bare wire to the junction box as was done for the old fixture.

Whether or not the existing box will support the new, heavier fixture is subjective. If it wasn't supporting the weight of the old fixture very well, then that's a bad sign. If there is an accessible attic above the room, it's pretty easy (although hot and messy) to reinforce the box. Even without an attic, you can by a fan brace kit designed for ceiling fans which can be installed from below for about twenty bucks.

Your temporary capping of the wires is relatively safe, especially if the wires are up high and out of normal reach.
 
  #3  
Old 08-28-04, 09:38 AM
uh-oh
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Lightbulb

it worked it worked it worked!!!!!!!!
after adjusting the bracket, I stabalized the junction box a little better, and i got a tester for about $1.50 at home depot that showed me which wire was which.
i have feeling that the next time i try to change a light fixture, it will be a thousand times easier. of course i don't plan on doing it very soon....

thanks so much,
Liz
 
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