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Tips for Connecting New Light Fixtures to Old Wiring

There are plenty of reasons to install new indoor light fixtures in your home. Perhaps you want to update your interior aesthetic, or save energy by upgrading to efficient LED bulbs. Maybe you even want to bring your lighting into a smart home control system. Although wiring a new fixture is usually a simple job, complications can crop up if your home still uses an outdated wiring system. In order to comply with your local building code, you may have to perform some extra electrical work to ensure the safety of your new fixture. Read on to learn more.

Bringing Older Electrical Work Up to Code

If your home still uses knob-and-tube wiring, the law prohibits connecting new light fixtures to the old wiring. You don't have to replace the entire wiring system itself, although that’s not a bad idea, because it can reduce your risk of an electrical fire and lower your insurance rates. Even if you don't have the time or money for such extensive electrical work, though, you can remain in compliance with your local code by installing an electrical box between your wiring and the light fixture.

You can purchase an appropriate electrical box at most local hardware stores – but make sure you verify that it is designed to meet local code guidelines for installing new light fixtures. From there, after you turn off the power to the room, you have to cut a hole in the wall where you want the fixture to go, large enough for the box to fit. If you're lucky, the fixture will be near a stud or part of the frame so you can mount the box easily. Otherwise, you have to cut the wall extremely carefully to ensure you leave enough lath and plaster keys to support the box.

Wiring the New Light into Place

Next, once the box is ready to be installed, follow the manufacturer instructions to clamp in the home wiring to the back of the unit. You may have to add a ground wire as well, depending on the specific scenario. Anchor the box using metal supports, and when it's all in place, connect the light fixture. When everything is securely connected, you can turn the power back on and give your new light a trial run.

Remember, knob-and-tube wiring can be a fire hazard, and performing electrical work in general can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. If you have any doubts or questions about installing your new light fixture, the best route is to have a professional electrician give you a hand.

Expert Assistance with Your Electrical Work

For assistance with all your electrical work, including installing new light fixtures, contact a qualified residential electrician today.

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