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Posted: 7/19/2010 12:52:30 PM EDT

Our old vanity fixture was terrible and I have the job of replacing it.  We picked out a new fixture and I'm ready to get to work...but the wiring is a problem.

The house was built in 1930, and has a spaghetti bowl of wiring that ranges from original to more modern.  There is a 100 amp service box with breakers, so that is at least decent, but no full re-wire has ever been done.

The power to the fixture is not switched, and there is no ground.   There is also no box, but I have access to the back of the wall to install a new work box.

Can I install the new fixture here without running a new wire for the circuit?
Link Posted: 7/19/2010 11:13:14 PM EDT
Is original wiring BX?  If so, install a metal box and you have your ground.
Link Posted: 7/19/2010 11:32:52 PM EDT
Run ground to a bare cold water pipe.
Link Posted: 7/19/2010 11:44:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/19/2010 11:47:54 PM EDT by GlutealCleft]
Originally Posted By Lion:
Is original wiring BX?  If so, install a metal box and you have your ground.


Relying on the BX for a ground is... dicey.  Yeah, it more or less works.  But quite often, it doesn't work all that well, particularly as time goes on.  I went through that in my office, where the original wiring was done that way, and over time, it led to a variety of problems.

Having been the recipient of a good zap in a bathroom where the wiring was done piss-poorly, I'd recommend doing it right, and get a read ground wire in there.  I'd also put in a GFCI while I was at it.  A bathroom is not the place you want to dink around with your electrical wiring.

Ground wires are the whipping boys of the electrical world, nobody ever seems to pay much attention to them.  But they're there to save your life, so I think they're worth doing right.
Link Posted: 7/20/2010 5:00:05 PM EDT
Originally Posted By GlutealCleft:
Originally Posted By Lion:
Is original wiring BX?  If so, install a metal box and you have your ground.


Relying on the BX for a ground is... dicey.  Yeah, it more or less works.  But quite often, it doesn't work all that well, particularly as time goes on.  I went through that in my office, where the original wiring was done that way, and over time, it led to a variety of problems.

Having been the recipient of a good zap in a bathroom where the wiring was done piss-poorly, I'd recommend doing it right, and get a read ground wire in there.  I'd also put in a GFCI while I was at it.  A bathroom is not the place you want to dink around with your electrical wiring.

Ground wires are the whipping boys of the electrical world, nobody ever seems to pay much attention to them.  But they're there to save your life, so I think they're worth doing right.


Any second rate electrical work can cause a problem, but it is perfectly acceptable to us the armor cable as ground per code (at least in my area).

I do worry about using a pipe as ground, you need to make sure it is actually grounded in the first place.  Second, you never know if someone is going to work on that pipe down the road and kill the ground.  There is also a chance of ground loops.  I am also not sure if this is to code, but that could depend on where you live.

I agree with GlutealCleft - run the correct wire you need and add a gfci.

Link Posted: 7/21/2010 6:23:05 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/21/2010 6:24:22 AM EDT by Sparkym37]
I'm not an electrician but maybe now is the time to run a new circuit to the bathroom from the breaker box and KNOW it's safe. It would also be able to handle hair dryers, curling irons, etc..
I'm sure it's more work than you want to do but it sounds like you eventually need to rewire the house at some point. This may be a good start. At the very least, I'd run new wire to a work box that I know is good.
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