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Finding light fixture in ceiling

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (Not Computer-Related)' started by chanaadair, Oct 8, 2008.

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  1. chanaadair

    chanaadair Thread Starter

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    I need to find out if there is ANY way possible(short of tearing out the ceiling and drilling lots of holes in the ceiling) of finding where the light fixtures use to be in our home. The ceiling was replaced in living room and den before we bought it and to be honest I didn't think of even counting how many switches and how many light fixtures, etc. We had a house fire and had to have something quick so now I have this to contend with. Anyways, the living room and den had ceilings replaced from the original tile panel type thing and was replaced with sheet rock with some kind of popcorn(?) texture but they covered the light fixtures. I want to find them and install light fixtures so the rooms are bright and not dark as they are now. Is there ANY way, some kind of tool to find where these boogers are? thanks
     
  2. cwwozniak

    cwwozniak Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Most electrical boxes are made of steel. A metal detector or even a strong magnet passed along the ceiling should be able to find them.

    I would be very concerned about the wiring used to connect to those junction boxes. The fire could have damaged the insulation on the wires to cause them to short together; if not during the fire then maybe at some time in the future.
     
  3. buck52

    buck52 Banned

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    they're just as apt to be plastic... depending on the type and age

    no access from above I gather?
     
  4. telecom69

    telecom69 Gone but never forgotten

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    I too would have concerns over the safety of any previous wiring after a fire,I would think it might even have been ripped out and replaced,Im thinking like buck that you need access from above to install new fittings etc...better to be safe than sorry .....
     
  5. DrewUberAlles

    DrewUberAlles

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    I worked for an electrician this summer and I have realized that there is only one way to find something out and it usually involves either getting dirty or being extremely uncomfortable.

    In this case unless the ceiling you are talking about has a floor above it, you have at least a crawl space between the ceiling of that room and the roof. Take a flashlight and just follow the wires and look for the junction boxes. If a good electrician wired the house, he would have wire nutted all loose connections and neatly tucked them in a box. If the work was done some time ago they may be hanging loose in which case be careful.

    At a certain point you have to decide is this worth my time and effort to try to do or just bite the bullet and call a professional. There are two things that I would never DIY and that is plumbing and electrical. If you don't know what you are doing, don't risk your safety and just make the call.
     
  6. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Actually, plumbing and electrical aren't all that difficult for the DIY person if they have the basic skills. This isn't rocket science. :)
     
  7. Drabdr

    Drabdr Moderator

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    If I understand your query correctly, you had some light fixtures installed in the ceiling (that is for certain, correct? You don't want to chase gremlins). They were covered up by the sheetrocker, and you want to find them. Is that correct?

    Who took the lights down, and did they cap off the wires? I hope so.

    How old is the house? Saying, really, really old houses (older than 1920's/ 1930's) sometimes they would stick a box anywhere. Normally, they are put in "reasonable" places.

    If you could pop up in the attic, that's the easy way. Sometimes you can look through the side of an A/C vent and see if there's something.

    Otherwise, lights are typically put in the center of the room, center of the dining area, etc. You can measure that spot off, and using a small finish nail, make a small hole there. Using a wire/ coat hanger, see if it bottoms out at 2 or 3 inches or so (you're in the box). If it keeps going, you probably missed it, but can poke around and try to find it by hitting the side.

    If you hit it, make a slightly larger hole and verify with something else, and on up in size to a hammer. Before you go crazy knocking a hole, take the time to be reasonably sure you're in the box. NOTE: Either turn the power off, or don't just stick your finger up in there. It could be hot.

    If you happen to hit the box, and if wire nuts weren't installed, turn the power off for the wires. You don't want to be hitting them. Use a scoring knife, and cut just enough within the circumference of the box.

    Now, this is assuming there's a box. If it was a fan, it may just be a wire.
     
  8. Drabdr

    Drabdr Moderator

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    Drew, from one electrician to another... I agree. However, in my old age I have realized there are risks/tradeoffs and such. For the most part, people are going to hang lights, fans, and maybe change a plug or switch on their own. I'll try to help them, so they do it correctly. After that, adding circuits and such probably need an electrician, IMHO. That is not because people are inept or it's too complex, it's just that the electrician is more experienced and proficient at it. In the end, it is most probably worth the person's time to get a pro. Again... just my opinion.
     
  9. buck52

    buck52 Banned

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    As a licensed Construction supervisor in the state of Mass...

    who on earth authorized the sheetrocker to cover over any wiring boxes... burying any box with connections in it is illegal... there must be access from either above or below... period

    All of the last few posts and suggestions are irrelavent...
     
  10. wacor

    wacor Banned

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    which leads me to question if there were any fixtures in the ceiling to begin with. ;)
     
  11. Drabdr

    Drabdr Moderator

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    Ahhh... it actually helps when you read the original post.:)

    How old is this house? There was a period (I believe in the mid 1950's) when the trend things was to have lamps and mood lights; as opposed to light fixtures. This is especially true in the living room. However, they did put switched plugs.

    If this is the case, find some switches that you don't know what they are for, and see if they work plugs on the wall. You can plug a radio or something in them. Leave them off if they don't work plugs, as I am unsure of your actual situation there.
     
  12. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    If the wires in the ceiling are live, you can also use one of the more modern stud finders that also have an indicator of live electrical circuits to find the wiring and box.
     
  13. iltos

    iltos

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    no....but somethings wierd....no house i've ever worked on had "original tile panel type things"....sounds like acoustical tiles on sleepers, put up to hide an old plaster ceiling, which would indicate steel boxes, 1" or more above the new drywall ceiling

    why anyone would bury all the existing electrical in a room is beyond me.....needing something "quick" don't cut it....another 10-20 minutes of measuring and cutting, and all those electrical boxes would have been in plain site.

    :confused:
     
  14. buck52

    buck52 Banned

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    like I said it's also illegal... know way to say anymore until the op posts back with more accurate info
     
  15. buck52

    buck52 Banned

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    Unfortunately... for some it might as well be... ;)
     
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