View Full Version : Replacing a 75-year-old bathroom light
05-24-2009, 07:53 PM
I bought a pendant light from Restoration Hardware for the bathroom. I've not done many home repairs, and zero of the electrical type. When I removed the old fixture (still connected by the wires though), I see just two old wires wrapped in tape. The new light has a ground wire and the directions call for me to connect it to something, but there is no something to connect it to. Also, if it matters, I have circuit breakers. Just a couple of questions:
1) what do I do with/about the ground wire?
2) how difficult/dangerous is this? If I get it all hooked up, is there a something (sparks, fire) that can occur in the ceiling after its mounted and turned on?
05-24-2009, 09:58 PM
As much as I understand and support people in their DIY efforts there are times I think you're better off with a pro and this is one of them. Tape is no where near good enough insulation for those wires. It's a sign that you need a bit more work than you should tackle for your first time handling electrical. Wiring a fixture is quite easy if the wiring is OK, I just wouldn't trust it based on your description. You have circuit breakers so likely your wiring has been updated at some point but that particular circuit should be looked at. If it makes any difference I am licensed although I don't work on residential wiring.
As far as the ground wire goes, your electrician could wire it in with a GFCI receptacle or install a GFCI breaker to give you ground fault protection. Again though, residential isn't my specialty - go with what your electrician recommends. They'll know the codes in your area.
05-24-2009, 10:56 PM
Your problem is not the lack of a ground wire but the 75 year-old wiring. If it is as old as you claim then it is probably K&T (knob and tube) wiring and you should seriously consult a professional electrician to come inspect all of your household wiring. This could pose a serious fire and safety hazard and may require removal and/or replacement.
That said, a simple light fixture does not require grounding, look at any of your table lamps with their lamp wire and two prong plug.
Please ensure that the proper breaker is off and there is no voltage to the switch or light fixture. Then you can simply swap the light fixtures, making sure the connections are secured together with marettes. You can connect the ground wire to the junction box, it may be grounded or you may be able to ground it in the future.
I strongly recommend that you get an electrician to do a thorough inspection of your wiring and look into installing a GFI breaker on any of your circuits that are not grounded as well as GFI receptacles near any sinks, taps and bathtubs.
05-25-2009, 01:11 AM
Thanks, Sparky and HKF. I was strongly leaning that way. I was willing to be swayed into doing it myself, but this is the clarity I needed. I thank you, and the other nine units in the building thank you.
05-25-2009, 01:12 AM
A moderator can close this thread now, if they'd like.
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