Wires Behind Drywall/Bathroom Light

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Posted by: from Toronto
2/27/2013 at 1:58:47 PM


I was wondering if someone might know how safe or unsafe this is. I took our bathroom light off the wall and this is what I found behind it! The wires are pulled through the drywall!

Any help would be appreciated.


wires behind drywall/bathroom light
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Date/Time2/27/2013 at 3:07:32 PM

For some reason 90% of the builders are doing this and it is being passed. They don't like to spend the extra $1 for a box. I suggest you add one that way it's a lot safer.

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Matthew from Matt of All Trades in Kitchener
Date/Time2/27/2013 at 3:24:05 PM

It looks as though there is no electrical box in the wall itself. Not the way to do things for sure!

You can do a couple things here Sandra.

One is to buy a "pancake box" which is a 1/2" deep mountable box that would screw to the wall - on a stud is best- but if not use drywall anchors to secure it. Pull the wires thru first and mount your fixture to that.

Second is to cut a hole to fit a standard octagon box and mount it in the wall. Pull your wires thru and mount your fixture. Patch the drywall as required, prime and paint.

If the hole you want to cut is between studs, try and fit a block between them and screw or nail to studs and mount the box to that. This may be a larger drywall repair as the hole may need to be significant to achieve the best in terms of the electrical and the best finished product after the patching.

Post an add in the projects section and I am sure a contractor or handyman can take care of this from your area.

Matt Rogers

Matt of All Trades


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Jeremy from JD Reno in Whitby
Date/Time2/27/2013 at 3:35:21 PM

HI Sandra,

Yes this is not the best thing and yes its very common for builders, but it is legal by code because of the type of light that was installed by the builder... most bathroom strip lights and those awful florescent lights that you see in garages and commercial buildings are not required to have a box because the connection is enclosed in the light itself and its usually mounted with drywall plugs or to the stud.

But in answer to your question I would definitely recommend that you install a solid octagon box in the wall so that you can affix whatever type of light you want there in the future and not worry about safety.


Jeremy Doucette


JD Reno

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time2/27/2013 at 3:57:25 PM

As mentioned previously, there are reasons for wiring like this and yes it is common depending on the light fixture previously installed. Most strip lights only require a connector, not a box as the boxes are sometimes larger than lights.

You can call in a pro or DIY guy if you are uncomfortable taking this task on yourself. Buy an octagon box and run the wires through the clamp and don't over tighten it. Screw it to the nearest stud leaving 1/8 space from the box to the finished surface of the drywall. If you need it more centered, you'll have to add some wood in the wall, but 90% of the time the plumbers hog all the center wall space for their vent stacks going back to not using a box.

What type of fixture do you plan on installing?

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Date/Time2/27/2013 at 4:02:46 PM

In Alberta this is the most common way it is done for bathroom lights. Using a box is always better. The reason it is done this way is so the electrician can adjust the light once the cabinets are installed. Quite often people either change their mind on the light or the cabinet and the electrician does not have a lighting list at the rough in stage. They could use a renovation box when they go to install the light. It is probably the way to go now.

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Date/Time2/28/2013 at 8:13:35 PM

Hi Sandra

I tend to agree with what has been said, except the portion of 'having a box is better'. What determines if you need a box is the style of light fixture you want there. As mentioned by others, many bar type fixtures are not wide enough to cover a standard four inch electrical box. In addition the fixture is rated as a 'box', so you would be putting a 'box' on a 'box', not very practical.

There is nothing unsafe about putting a cable directly into the fixture provided it is properly done with a connector and the fixture is rated for that type of installation. Likewise there is nothing that makes using a box safer unless it is needed for that style of light fixture.

Hope this makes sense to you.



John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Sandra in Toronto
Date/Time2/28/2013 at 8:20:48 PM

Thanks for the replies, you've all been really helpful.

This is a great site with a lot of great contractors.

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Date/Time3/3/2013 at 7:55:08 AM

Hello Sandra,

My suggestion would be to hire a Licensed electrician. Have the new light fixture with you when he comes over and he will put in a new box and install you're new fixture all at the same time.

Hope this helps.

Rene Rozon

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Date/Time3/3/2013 at 3:04:30 PM

Hi Sandra,

Having the wire as shown in your fixture is safe and acceptable according to code, as long as the proper fixture was previously attached and the installation/connection was done properly. Depending on your new fixture, you may or may not need to install an octagon box.

The project is fairly simple but if you need questions answered, I'm sure a couple of post would give you the answers that you are looking for.

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