Repair a Light Fixture Installed without an Electrical Box

An electrical box.
  • 4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50
What You'll Need
Stud finder
Junction box
New light fixture
Wire pliers
Wire cutters
Drywall Screws
Putty Knife
Drywall compound
Wire caps
Drywall saw or utility knife

If you have an old light fixture that is not attached to the wall or ceiling with a junction box, you should repair the light fixture by removing it, installing a junction box, and installing a new fixture. Light fixtures that simply protrude from the ceiling or wall without a junction box are a fire waiting to happen. Use this simple step-by-step guide to remove the old light fixture and install a new one with a proper junction box.

Step 1 - Turn Off the Power

Go to the main breaker box in your home, and find the circuit breaker that powers the light fixture you want to change out. Turn the circuit breaker to the off position.

Step 2 - Remove the Old Light Fixture

Once you are sure that there is no more power running to the light fixture, remove the screws that attach it to the wall or ceiling and pull out the wiring. Disconnect the wiring and discard the old light fixture.

Step 3 - Find Closest Stud

Use a stud finder to locate the stud closest to the location where the old light fixture was installed. If you're lucky, the old light fixture was screwed into a stud and will make installing the new junction box much easier. However, if it is not, simply choose the stud that is closest to where the old fixture was installed.

Step 4 - Cut Out Hole for Junction Box

Once you have located a stud, take a pencil and draw the outline of the junction box on the ceiling or wall where the fixture will be installed. Take the drywall saw or utility knife and carefully cut out the hole for the junction box. Don't throw away the piece of drywall that you cut out as you may need it to touch up the drywall where the old light fixture was installed.

Step 5 - Insert Wiring into Junction Box

Punch out the knockout tabs on the junction box, and feed the wiring from the circuit breaker into the junction box. Pull out a few extra inches if possible so that you can wire up the new light fixture.

Step 6 - Attach Junction Box to Stud

Use a screwdriver and the screws that came with the junction box to attach it to the stud. Make sure that the junction box is set at the correct depth and is flush with your wall or ceiling.

Step 7 - Wire the Light Fixture

Connect the wire running from the circuit breaker box to the new light fixture. Be sure to check the polarity on the wiring before making the connections. When you twist the two pieces of wire together, secure them with a wire nut in order to provide a better connection.

Step 8 - Attach Light Fixture to Junction Box

Use screws to attach the light fixture to the new junction box. Most fixture junction boxes have several holes that you can screw into; therefore, you will simply need to match up the holes on the junction box with those on the new light fixture.

Step 9 - Touch Up Drywall

If drywall was damaged when you removed the old light fixture, use the piece of drywall that you cut out and some drywall compound to repair the damaged area. Cut out the damaged area with a utility knife; plug the hole with the piece you cut out and some drywall compound; sand the area and then paint it.

Step 10 - Turn On the Power

Go back to the main breaker box and turn the power back on.