• In this video, This Old House host Kevin O'Connor discovers the proper way to install ceiling-mounted light fixtures.

    Steps:
    1. Turn off the electrical power to the circuit you will be working on.
    2. Remove the wall switches from an existing two-gang box; be sure to label the wires for reinstallation later.
    3. Push the existing electrical cables through the rear of the box.
    4. Hold a new three-gang switch box over the old two-gang box and trace its outline onto the wall.
    5. Use a drywall saw to enlarge the hole in the wall for the three-gang box.
    6. Pry the old two-gang box from the wall.
    7. From the attic, drill a hole down through top wall plate directly above the switch-box hole.
    8. Feed a fish tape down the hole and into the new switch-box hole.
    9. Use the fish tape to pull a new nonmetallic electrical cable up from the hole and into the attic.
    10. Feed all the wires through the rear of the new electrical box, then screw the box to the wall stud.
    11. Reconnect the old switches, using pigtail wires to connect the new dimmer switch.
    12. Place strips of masking tape on the countertop to indicate where you want the pendant fixtures to shine light.
    13. Transfer these points from the countertop to the ceiling using a plumb bob.
    14. Drill pilot holes through ceiling at each plumb bob mark.
    15. Cut holes for pancake electrical boxes in the ceiling using a drill fitted with an electrical-box hole saw.
    16. Screw pancake boxes to ceiling joists.
    17. Seal hole in top wall plate with fireproof caulk.
    18. Run electrical cable from the switch box to the first pancake box, and then run another length of cable from the first box to the second, and from the second box to the third.
    19. Make the wire connections at each box, using twist-on wire connectors to join white to white, black to black, bare copper ground to bare copper ground.
    20. Fasten the canopies to the pancake boxes, then turn on the power and test the dimmer switch.
    • 4 to 8 hours to install three fixtures
    • $300 to $600, depending on the style and make of light fixtures
    • Difficulty: Moderate to hard
      Moderate, requires some experience in electrical work
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    Video Directory

    Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • flathead screwdriver
        Screwdriver, for removing and tightening screws
      • flat prybar
        Pry bar, for removing old switch box
      • drill
        Cordless drill, for drilling holes and driving screws
      • keyhole saw
        Electrical-box hole saw, used to cut holes in ceiling for pancake boxes
      • drywall saw
        drywall saw, for enlarging hole in wall for new switch box
      • plumb bob
        plumb bob, used to transfer fixture locations from countertop to ceiling
      • fish tape
        fish tape, used to pull cable through wall
      • caulk gun
        Caulking gun and fireproof caulk, for sealing hole bored in top wall plate

      Shopping List

      Nonmetallic electrical cable, for wiring new fixtures and dimmer switch

      Pancake electrical box, for attaching new pendant fixture to ceiling

      Dimmer switch, for operating new fixtures

      Three-gang switch box, for housing the new dimmer and two existing wall switches