Replacing Old Fixtures

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
I have arranged for an electrician to come by next week to replace the light fixture shown in the attached photo. As you can see, it is attached to the wall with screws, That tells me there is no outlet box behind the fixture. I would prefer that the electrician simply mount the new fixture the same way and use the existing wires. Those wires may well be knob and tube. This fixture has been in place for at least 25 years. I am concerned that the electrician may tell me that the job will require upgrades beyond a simple swap (i.e., install outlet box or replace old wiring). I believe this job will not require an electrical permit.

Question 1: Am I right in believing that no permit will be needed (or is that a local jurisdiction issue)?
Question 2: If there is no outlet box, will code require me to get one installed?
Question 3: If the wiring is K&T, will code require me to get it replaced?
 

Attachments

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
A permit probably won't be required. But it's the local AHJ's call.
A box is required.
If the K&T is not grounded, and the new fixture requires it, you will need to rewire it from a grounded circuit.
 

wwhitney

Senior Member
Location
Berkeley, CA
Occupation
Retired
As you can see, it is attached to the wall with screws, That tells me there is no outlet box behind the fixture.
What is your basis for that conclusion? I believe that style of cover with lamps is intended to be mounted with screws to a outdoor round box with a foam gasket compressed between the cover and the box edges for water sealing. A box like this:


Hopefully there is such a box let into the siding behind the fixture.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Location
-
Occupation
Engineer/Technician
Depends on your state I would say..


NC General Statute says permits are required for:

The installation, extension, alteration, or general repair of any electrical wiring, devices, appliances, or equipment except that in any one- or two-family dwelling unit a permit shall not be required for repair or replacement of electrical lighting fixtures or devices, such as receptacles and lighting switches, or for the connection of an existing branch circuit to an electric water heater that is being replaced, provided that all of the following requirements are met:
a. With respect to electric water heaters, the replacement water heater is placed in the same location and is of the same or less capacity and electrical rating as the original.
b. With respect to electrical lighting fixtures and devices, the replacement is with a fixture or device having the same voltage and the same or less amperage.
c. The work is performed by a person licensed under G.S. 87-43.
d. The repair or replacement installation meets the current edition of the State Building Code, including the State Electrical Code.
 

Knuckle Dragger

Master Electrician Electrical Contractor 01752
Location
Marlborough, Massachusetts USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
What is your basis for that conclusion?
As mentioned before the drywall screws are a dead give away for no box. But sometimes the vinyl guys remove the fixture, lose the screws and use whatever they have. Who knows he may get lucky and the is a box behind the cover.
Footnote: In all my years being in the trade (homes twenty years or more old) I have found that for one reason or another, electricians think it's okay to mount outdoor wall sconces and bathroom vanity lights with no junction box.
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Retired Electrical Contractor
Charlie--
No permit is generally needed to replace a light
You will need to install a box behind the fixture but that is not an issue
Then cannot make you replace the K&T
 

augie47

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee
Occupation
State Electrical Inspector
Permitting would be a local issue. Here, if the wiring is "altered" a permit is required .. I would say that was done in about 1 in 1,000 cases :)
A box can be added easily if needed as noted above.
As to grounding, note the following:
410.44 Methods of Grounding. Luminaires and equipment shall be mechanically connected to an equipment grounding conductor as specified in 250.118 and sized in accordance with 250.122
. Exception No. 1: Luminaires made of insulating material that is directly wired or attached to outlets supplied by a wiring method that does not provide a ready means for grounding attachment to an equipment grounding conductor shall be made of insulating material and shall have no exposed conductive parts.
Exception No. 2: Replacement luminaires shall be permitted to connect an equipment grounding conductor from the outlet in compliance with 250.130(C). The luminaire shall then comply with 410.42.
Exception No. 3: Where no equipment grounding conductor exists at the outlet, replacement luminaires that are GFCI protected shall not be required to be connected to an equipment grounding conductor. 410.46 Equipment Grounding Conductor Attachment. Luminaires with exposed metal parts shall be provided with a means for connecting an equipment grounding conductor for such luminaires.
 
As to grounding, note the following:
410.44 Methods of Grounding. Luminaires and equipment shall be mechanically connected to an equipment grounding conductor as specified in 250.118 and sized in accordance with 250.122
. Exception No. 1: Luminaires made of insulating material that is directly wired or attached to outlets supplied by a wiring method that does not provide a ready means for grounding attachment to an equipment grounding conductor shall be made of insulating material and shall have no exposed conductive parts.
Exception No. 2: Replacement luminaires shall be permitted to connect an equipment grounding conductor from the outlet in compliance with 250.130(C). The luminaire shall then comply with 410.42.
Exception No. 3: Where no equipment grounding conductor exists at the outlet, replacement luminaires that are GFCI protected shall not be required to be connected to an equipment grounding conductor. 410.46 Equipment Grounding Conductor Attachment. Luminaires with exposed metal parts shall be provided with a means for connecting an equipment grounding conductor for such luminaires.
🤔
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Footnote: In all my years being in the trade (homes twenty years or more old) I have found that for one reason or another, electricians think it's okay to mount outdoor wall sconces and bathroom vanity lights with no junction box.
Not my experience. Electrician usually installs a box, may or may not bring an EGC to it if there wasn't one though.

DIY's, siding contractors, handymen, etc. are the ones that don't use a box. If they know it needs one they often won't really know how to make it work, especially on lap siding so they just do whatever makeshift thing that works for them.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Occupation
Field coordinator/ technical support
It’s extremely unlikely there is a box behind it. I was surprised the other day finding an actual pancake box behind a floodlight that I was extending the circuit on. Very rare around here. I always cut mine in, or use a bell box. because the soffit material was unknown until the finish. Sometimes vinyl, sometimes Hardy plank, sometimes plywood. Most of the contractors around here would just stub a wire down, and no inspector would climb an extension ladder to check.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
Footnote: In all my years being in the trade (homes twenty years or more old) I have found that for one reason or another, electricians think it's okay to mount outdoor wall sconces and bathroom vanity lights with no junction box.
There are some lights that the canopy can be the "box". Most of them are vanity lights that I see. They have a backing plate that mounts to the wall and the cover/canopy mounts to that.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
There are some lights that the canopy can be the "box". Most of them are vanity lights that I see. They have a backing plate that mounts to the wall and the cover/canopy mounts to that.
Not so common on outdoor fixtures other than maybe "wall pack" styles which are less common on dwellings.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
$7 dual head lights like this don't come with a back-box.
No one said they did. I was replying to Knuckle Dragger saying this.....

Footnote: In all my years being in the trade (homes twenty years or more old) I have found that for one reason or another, electricians think it's okay to mount outdoor wall sconces and bathroom vanity lights with no junction box.
 

Knuckle Dragger

Master Electrician Electrical Contractor 01752
Location
Marlborough, Massachusetts USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
There are some lights that the canopy can be the "box". Most of them are vanity lights that I see. They have a backing plate that mounts to the wall and the cover/canopy mounts to that.
Yeah, I know the style you are mentioning.
I would see no box on the back plate with the pre punched 2" plus round hole and multi slot round mounting plates.
Both in my opinion require boxes.
 
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