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Question DetailsAsked on 9/21/2011

When replacing light fixtures is it okay that I didn't use the bracket with the grounding nut & excess wires not put up in box?

I recently replaced ceiling light fixtures. They didn't use a bracket with a grounding wire on the original fixtures so I didn't use them for the new fixtures. Is that okay? Also, the excess wires didn't fit back up in the box so some were laying on top of the fixture when I put it tight up against the ceiling. Will this cause any problems?

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2 Answers


1. Bracketwithout grounding wire.
All metal in an outlet box is supposed to be grounded and, strictly speaking,an ungrounded bracket is a code violation. What is really important is that theground wire from the new light fixture be connected to the ground wire thatcomes out of the wall. If this connection is not made then a loose hot wire cancontact the metal of the fixture and not trip the breaker. Then someone turnson the switch and leaves it on because the light doesn’t work. Then they touchthe fixture and get zapped, possibly on a ladder. It can get ugly.

    Wires on top of fixture instead of inside outlet box.

Wires can be dressed inside thefixture and outside of the outlet box. What is important is the connectionsbetween the house and fixture reside in the outlet box. There are exceptions. Somefixtures are rated to house the connections between the house and the fixture.4' fluorescent fixtures are a good example of this. It is always good practiceto make the connections inside the outlet box. The idea here is that if theconnection becomes loose or corroded then it will heat up and possibly burn.Outlet boxes are designed to contain these flare ups. The light fixture may notnecessarily be rated to contain such a fire.

Answered 9 years ago by Kestrel Electric


You should have used the bracket provided with the ground screw, and if installed in a plastic box then the feed ground wire is supposed to be fastened to the ground screw on the bracket using an eye-type crimp connector (not supposed to put two round wires under one screw). Some brackets have one screw but two screw holes to accomodate two ground wires - one from line cord, one from light fixture, provide your own screw. Feeding the wire through and wrapping it around is a common, very NOT to code trick by lazy electricians. Failure to install the grounds can, as previously stated, result in a "live" fixture or bulb receptable if there is a short or the "live" wire nut comes loose and touches the metal box or fixture.

Wires are NOT allowed to be tucked into the light fixture recess unless it specifically says they can be in the manufacturer's instructions (which is very rare, as that area usually gets quite hot) - all the wire should be in the box. If there is too much wire on the line feed or the fixture to fit, then you are supposed to cut the excess (which makes it hard to wire nut the wires again if you ever remove it), or put in a bigger box. Most light fixtures are designed and RATED (for heat purposes) for 4x4 or 5x5 round or octagonal boxes, not the smaller rectangular 4 x 2-1/8 "Handy" boxes used for single wall outlets. That may be why you did not have room to stuff the wires into it - light circuits are supposed to be wired to 4x4 boxes or larger.

As to whether the wires laying on top will cause a problem - depends - if on top of a flourescent transformer, can melt - I have seen that happen and cause a fire. If on top of a metal incandescent fixture or a totally enclosed fixture or inverted unvented can fixture, they can get quite hot so I would definitely change it. If a plastic fixture it would still not be to code, but one might think if the plastic can take the heat then it should not be too severe for the wires above it. Personally, I would chalk the effort up to the learning curve and rewire with the grounded bracket, so while you are in there I would get the wires up off the light fixture at least - loop over the mounting bracket so they don't touch it, at least. why risk a fire ?

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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