Each time I open an electrical outlet in my house that looks like it wasn’t original, I expect to be horrified. The original owner of my house did some very sloppy wiring. I had dangling wires all over the basement (he hid those with a drop ceiling), but I was able to tidy up without too much trouble. He also seemed to have a general aversion to physically connecting any ground wires. I found another example of this when I took off the old bathroom light:
Notice how there’s no ground wire attached to this box. It was even more mysterious before I starting trying to cut into the drywall beside the outlet, which was exploratory. I wanted to see if the ground wire had been cut before it was fed into the box. I was also curious about the non-standard electrical connector (i.e. it’s not a clamp) that had been used to feed the wire through.
What I found was another electrical box that was plastered over, which I believe is an Ontario electrical code violation. Here’s what it looked like after I took off the cover plate:
The wire that was fed into the box that the bathroom light was connected to passed through a piece of gas fitting pipe, which was loosely connected with a pair of twisty nuts (one removed in the picture above). I suppose that there was some ground connection of the secondary box through the gas-fitting pipe, but it wasn’t in very securely, and isn’t what I’d want to protect my house from catching on fire due to bad electrical wiring.
Incidentally, that secondary box wasn’t physically connected to a stud at all. What held it in place was:
- The loosely connected gas fitting pipe.
- Kleenex or toilet paper that had been jammed into the hole, against the side of the box like so:
The Kleenex had some drywall compound on it, and it was that combination of drywall compound, Kleenex, and the loose gas fitting pipe that was supporting the light. Needless to say, that light sagged a bit, but I hadn’t gotten to handling it until now.
We now have a light that is properly grounded, and physically connected to the original wiring box:
I haven’t actually filled in the hole left by removing the secondary octagon box yet, and have temporarily installed the light in the bathroom so the space is usable. I thought I was almost finished the patching in the bathroom, but now have some more to do.