Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Halloween repair - Adding a ceiling switch box

The switch in my closet has been broken for some time now and I finally decided to do something about it last night. I figured I might as well take advantage of the sugar buzz and put the energy to good use.

For some reason I cannot leave good enough alone, so I decided to install a ceiling electrical switch box where my light was instead of just a hole in the ceiling for the electrical wire.  Because my house is about 90 years old, which is pretty old for the community I live in, all of the walls and ceilings are made out of lath and plaster which makes easy jobs like this a bit harder.

Before starting I made sure the power was off for this electrical run by flipping the breaker for it. I then put up some plastic to shield all of my clothes in the closet from dust (yes I was too lazy to remove them)

After the prep-work was done I marked the hole where the box was going to go using the ceiling switch box as a guide.

I used the hole in the middle as my plunge point and cut out the hole for my box using my Makita 18V LXT Recipro Saw with a demolition blade. I used the demolition blade because it was supposed to handle more types of materials,  but it still went dull on me pretty fast.

Cutting a nice circle in lath and plaster has always been a challenge for me, and to be honest this is one of my better cuts.  It really makes me miss sheet rock in a home.

Now that I had the hole cut out I inserted in my "old work" ceiling electrical box. Make sure its an old work box because they come with little wings on the side that will flip out and over the sheet rock when you tighten them down.  They don't work as well for lath and plaster because it is so much thicker. So I usually unscrew the wings as much as I can and then tighten them down and hope for the best.  It is also helpful to remove the lath around the hole where the wings would be so they have somewhere to go.

Last I hooked up my pull switch up to the electrical wire, and screwed it into the box.  I made a pretty good mess so I was glad that I put up the plastic to protect my clothes. After vacuuming up my mess and removing the plastic I was all done.  The whole job took me somewhere between 30-45 minutes (probably really only about 15 minutes the rest was looking for my tools)

I am pretty excited to have a light in my closet again. As always, once I was done with my project I had to wonder why it took me so long to get around to doing it. 

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