How to Replace the Electrical Box for Ceiling Light

There are various reasons why you would need to replace an electrical box for a ceiling light.
The electrical box in the ceiling may be broken and unable to have a ceiling light attached to it. The box could be loose and you do not have the ability to tighten the box to hold it to its original position. It could simply be an older box that doesn't allow for the weight of your ceiling light. You can remove and replace your old electrical box in the ceiling without having to crawl into your attic.

Step 1

Turn off the electricity that supplies power to the ceiling electrical box by turning off the breaker at the Main electrical panel.

Step 2

Test to verify that the electricity is off. Use a two prong electrical tester and inside the original electrical box, touch one prong to the black wire and the other prong to the white wire verifying that the power has been disconnected. Referred to your tester’s instruction manual on how to verify disconnection of power.

Step 3

Remove the original electrical ceiling box. If the box is attached to a ceiling joist with a screw, simply remove the screw and pull the box out through the hole in the ceiling. Should the box be attached to a hanger bar that is connected to two ceiling joists, unscrew the ceiling box fastener located in the center of the electrical box to remove the box and using a pair tin snips, cut through the hanger bar. If the box is nailed to the joist, use a hammer and heavy duty screwdriver to break the box apart removing the pieces. Take care during electrical box removal that you do not damage any of the electrical wiring.

Step 4

Install an "old work" ceiling junction box. Use the template that was provided with your new ceiling junction box to verify that the hole in the ceiling is the correct size. If necessary, trace around the template and use a keyhole saw to cut the ceiling hole to the proper size. Pull the electrical wiring through the knockouts located in the back of the "old work" box and slide the box into the hole cut in the ceiling. An "old work" box has clamps or wings attached to the box by screws that when turned will hold the box into the ceiling. Use a screwdriver and turn the screws clamping the box into the ceiling.

Things You Will Need

  • Electrical tester
  • Phillips or flat head screwdriver
  • Tin snips
  • Hammer
  • Heavy duty flat head screwdriver
  • "Old work" ceiling junction box
  • Keyhole saw
  • Safety goggles

Tip

  • Always wear safety goggles when working overhead.

Warning

  • Always test to verify the electricity is off in the area that you are working in to avoid electrical shock.

About the Author

Cecilia Harsch has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications. She has several years of experience in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and a background in group exercise instruction. Harsch received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004. She attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition.