Phenolic Ceiling Junction /Electric Box


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Old 11-26-21, 07:52 AM
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Phenolic Ceiling Junction /Electric Box

New house to me as of a month ago. I was trying to remove a light fixture to install LEDs and the whole fixture comes off as I break the screw holding the fixture to the phenolic (brittle) ceiling electric/junction box.

Carlon/T&B (Thomas and Betts) I think is the brand/type

It looks kind of like the one in the picture below but seems like the metal backing is only on one side, but the hole is not big enough to pull the box out as I need to replace it since the screw mount for the light fixture is broken. One nail was visible and I tried to remove it but it was bent, so as I tried to remove the nail it snapped - Doh!

There is some free play and it feels loose on one side, I can grab the loose side with a vise grip and pull very hard but this is probably still nailed in very tight.

House was built in 1989
1. Why this style instead of the blue boxes or metal boxes -fire code? Its a light fixture controlled by a three way switch in the basement

2. How do I remove this thing without cutting the ceiling sheetrock?

3. Do I have to replace with similar or can I use the blue version I see at HD or Lowes?

Thanks in advance - plans are to replace with a light fixture which will not be very heavy

I will take a picture of the problem and repost shortly.



 
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Old 11-26-21, 08:06 AM
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Colors not important. Can you slip a hacksaw blade and cut the nails holding it? Cutting the wallboard is not the worst thing and is considered one of the easier fixes. Take pictures BEFORE disconnecting any wires. Since this is a 3 way you want to be sure of the connections are replaced exactly as they are now. Take a picture of your actual situation.
 
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Old 11-26-21, 08:39 AM
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Thanks for the quick reply

I made a mental note and thought the 3 way was suspicious as it looks like two sets of wires twisted together at the black and white and ground which fed into the light which had just one black, one white and one ground. Look at the picture and where you see the nuts just place a light fixture with each single matching color from the light fixture going to the nut which has 2 wires twisted together (assuming one from each switch and guessing only one switch has power running to it).

Hack saw or any cutting tool scares me with wires running up behind the box - I was thinking since it is brittle and phenolic type I could break it apart piece by piece until I had to deal with the metal part - but wires would be easier to spot in the even I need to cut something.

Just didn't want to go down that path if there was an easier way to get this out.

Thanks again for the quick reply and help.


Side with freeplay is to the left where I'm holding with my fingers





This is the wiring and each one of the nuts had one wire coming from the light fixture. Did not look like a typical 3-way but I'm not an electrician




To the right you can see the metal plate and that hole to the right of the box is where the nail broke off - looks like another nail possibly to the right (perfect circle in the sheetrock/paint)
 
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Old 11-26-21, 08:45 AM
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I'm confused. This looks like nothing more than a junction box with no fixture attached. If it's part of a 3-way switch system there should be a red traveler wire involved. Looks like nothing was attached to this box. Why are you trying take it apart?
 
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Old 11-26-21, 09:51 AM
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Apologies - should have been more clear

This box had a light fixture attached to it - I agree regarding red traveler missing. The light was a ceiling mount with a glass dome, I tried to remove the dome but as I turned it the one of the screws holding the fixture to the box broke - so it is no longer usable. I removed the light so it wasn't just hanging there - the 3 wires from the light were each attached to the respective colored bundle of two wires capped with a nut coming from the box.

1. Two switches controlled this light one at the bottom of the stairs and one at the top of the stairs - this is why I called it a 3-way but said it was suspiciously wired.

2. I would like to put up a different light so I need something to mount the light to, but one screw receptacle is broken (see pic)




thanks again

 
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Old 11-26-21, 10:03 AM
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OK, just to be clear, two switches control that one light. Correct?
At this point I would cut the wall board to give you more room. Do whatever is needed to remove old box and install another.
If you need instructions on how to patch wall board, there are several methods. All very easy. But I'm more concerned about how the 3-way is wired.
I would like to see some of our electrical experts' chime in.
 
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Old 11-26-21, 11:27 AM
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Thanks for the quick reply

Me too regarding the 3 way wiring - does not look ok to me.

Yes two switches definitely control that light and a few other lights in the basement near by and possibly a 3rd switch in another room in the basement also control wall these lights. It's not that old of a house either (1989) so I'm guessing someone was a creative DIY'er but I prefer safe DIY'er.

I'f love to hear from electrician their thoughts.

Thanks
 
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Old 11-26-21, 11:39 AM
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two switches definitely control that light and a few other lights in the basement near by
This is daisy-chained from & to other fixtures and is not the first in the switched run. The first box is where the switched conductor from the switch will be located (and possibly also the power source unless that originates at one of the switches.)
 
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Old 11-27-21, 12:31 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply

So that is ok to have it wired like that, not a code violation or hazard?

Thanks for the reply
 
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Old 11-27-21, 12:50 PM
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Are there two lights ?
If yes.... that wiring is completely normal.

You can replace the box. You'll need to turn the circuit off. Disconnect the wires.
Hit the box with a hammer and screw driver and break it out of there.
Ultimately you'll need to pry the bracket off the joist.

A smart box is good replacement choice. Available many places.
They make standard duty like in the link and also offer heavy duty for large fixture and fan use.
Smart box
 
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