Sunday, February 18, 2007

Removing old bathroom light box

Before I start building the wooden light soffit for above the bathroom sink, I need to remove the light box that’s currently in place.

Before doing any work around any electrical device, be sure to turn off the power and test the fixture to assure it’s safe to proceed.

The photo to the right will give you an idea of how deep the existing light box is. With the frosted glass removed, you can see the box is over nine inches deep. Since the bulbs are set at the very top of the box, you can understand why the light produced by the box didn’t do a very good job of spreading light throughout the bathroom. Even though the bathroom is only 5’ x 11’ (see my Upstairs bathroom primer post), much of the light’s effectiveness was blocked by the inside walls of the light box. If the light bulbs were down closer to the rim, the light would have been cast at a much greater angle.

With the chrome trim removed, I discovered that the light box had actually been plastered into place. Lovely. With a stiff putty knife, I removed the skim-coat of plaster from the lip around the edge of the light box. The plaster was only about 1/16” deep. I had to be careful to make sure I didn’t accidentally drive the putty knife into the huge mirror above the sink.

Before the box could be removed, there were four nails driven through the inside of the box and into the wood framing for the existing plaster soffit. The last step before removing the box is disconnecting the electrical from the box. Once these two steps were complete, the box was ready to slide out.

Before pulling the light box out of the plaster soffit, I taped an old cardboard box to the mirror so the box wouldn’t accidentally scratch the mirror during removal. Once the cardboard was in place, I put one of the screws from the chrome trim back in its hole and gently pulled down on the screw with the claw of my hammer. It didn’t take much effort to loosen the box from the plaster.

With the light box removed, I was able to see inside the plaster soffit. Before removing the light, I wasn’t sure if there was any horizontal wood framing to the left of the light box. (Unfortunately, an electronic stud finder isn’t powerful enough to scan through the thick plaster.) The great news is that there is no framing that will get in the way of the new light canisters I’m planning to install. If there had been wood framing in the way, it could have impacted the placement of the new lights. It’s great to know that won’t be an issue.

With no framing to worry about, I can simply cut holes in the plaster so the tall light canisters can extend from the bottom of the short wood light soffit (less than 3” tall) up into the plaster soffit.

Now I can get to work on the wood soffit in the old workshop. It’ll be nice to create wood dust instead of joint compound dust!

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