How to Relocate a Ceiling Fixture

If your light's not hitting the right spot, follow these step-by-step instructions.
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A fixture needn't be fixed in place. If you don't like where one is, here's how to move it:

Materials and Tools:

circuit tester
Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers
wire cutter
wire stripper
crimp tool
measuring tape
stud sensor
drywall saw
drywall-mounted junction box
safety glasses

Note: If you don't have access to the space above your ceiling, you'll need to install the new fixture so that it's between the same joists as the existing fixture. Otherwise, you may not be able to run the wire from one location to the other.

Steps:

1. Identify the location for the new light fixture, and use the stud sensor to make sure there are no joists directly behind the ceiling in that area. You'll be using a drywall-mounted junction box, which clamps directly to the ceiling drywall. You'll need to reinforce the junction box if you plan to install a heavy fixture such as a ceiling fan.

2. Use the template provided with the junction box to trace a cut line onto the ceiling. If you don't have a template, you can use the back of the box.

3. Use a drywall saw to cut out the opening for the junction box.

4. Turn off the power to the existing fixture by switching off the appropriate circuit breaker.

5. Remove the fixture from the ceiling and test the wires with the circuit tester. Disconnect the wires from the fixture.

6. Run a piece of electrical cable from the original junction box to the hole for the new one. Check the sheathing on the new cable to be sure it's of the same gauge as the original cable.

7. Strip the sheathing from the cable coming from the existing junction box, and strip the insulation from the wires. Crimp the two ground wires together with a barrel crimp, and splice the white wires together and the black wires together. Secure the connections with wire nuts.

8. Push the wires into the junction box and attach a cover plate. Note: Many building codes require you to leave a cover plate over the original junction box if you don't have easy access to the wiring from above the ceiling.

9. Slide the other end of cable through the back of the new junction box. Insert the box into the ceiling and secure it by tightening the mounting screws.

10. Strip the sheathing and wires, and attach the wires to the fixture using the same procedure as before.

11. Push the wires into the junction box and attach the mounting bracket.

12. Attach the light fixture to the new junction box.

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