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Install a Ceiling Light and Switch

Step 5: Repair the Damage

Once the cable is run and the boxes are attached, it's time to repair the damage, using a three-step process: 1) fasten backer boards across the opening; 2) screw scraps of drywall to the backers, and 3) finish the patch with joint compound.

Drill holes to reduce wall damage, and then screw through the wall to attach wood backer strips (roughly 1 12" × 8").

Cut patches made of drywall and gently screw them to the backers. You may need shims (of cardboard, plywood, drywall, or roof shingle) so the drywall is flush to, or slightly below, the surface.

Screw the drywall patch to the backer without loosening the backer.

With the patch in place, apply drywall tape and trowel on a quick-setting compound. This stuff fills deep holes better than drywall joint compound, and then sets faster.

Shift to normal joint compound after the quick-setting compound. Let the joint compound dry, sand lightly, and then put on a finish coat to match your wall.

Step 6: Connecting the Fixtures

Finally it's time to make the electrical connections. Consult the following directions for some general information on electrical connections. Then read how to connect the three boxes in this lighting setup.

Making Electrical Connections

To wire a box, follow these steps:

  1. Tighten the cable clamps (found only in metal boxes). You'll see two types of clamp; metal boxes may use one or both types. Tighten the two screws evenly, and then insert the cable clamp into a round hole in a metal box. Turn the big ring to clamp the clamp to the box.

  2. Remove the cable sheath. A utility knife will strip the outer sheath from cable. Don't cut the wires inside.

  3. Strip 34" of insulation from the wire ends. A wire stripper removes insulation from the black and white wires. These nifty strippers will also strip the sheath.

  4. Connect wires together: To join wires to each other, use screw-on connectors, sold in various sizes for various combinations of wires.

  5. Connect wires to fixtures: The basic rule is that black wire goes to brass screws; white wire goes to silver-colored screws. Some electrical fixtures use slip-in connectors (round holes on the back in which you stick a stripped wire end). I prefer screw terminals. Screw terminals, not the slip-in connectors, give a better connection to a receptacle. Strip the wire, make a hook, close the hook over the screw, and tighten.

  6. Ground connections: The equipment grounding system should connect all bare wires, all metal boxes, and the metal body of every fixture. Grounding screws or clips connect the ground system to metal boxes. Screw the grounding screw into a threaded hole in the back of the box. No threaded hole? Use a grounding clip, sold in the same section of the building-material store.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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