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I live in an older house (California) and the overhead light fixture boxes seem small. They unreceptive to the fixtures my wife has purchased from Ikea in that they have two holes for accepting screws and no amount of cajoling the Ikea fixture will cause its holes to line up. I've picked up an adapter plate from a hardware store but none of its holes line up with the fixture's holes either. Am I doing it wrong?

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can you post some pictures? – Brian Aug 5 '10 at 15:48
Not receptacle- box. I was confused by that at first... – nstenz Aug 26 '10 at 3:25
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Usually you will have some sort of strap (as shown in the pictures below) which will go over the receptacle box and then the overhead light will attach to that.

alt text alt text

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I will go look for a strap on the old fixture – Ron Aug 5 '10 at 16:23

If it's not a standard junction box, you could always replace it with a new one. A standard octagonal junction box should do the trick:

alt text

If the old box wasn't located near a ceiling joist, I'd recommend something like the Westinghouse Saf-T-Brace. You don't even need to go into the attic to install it. (You do need to know which way your ceiling joists run though.)

alt text

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Thank you for the product suggestion. If I can't find a strap which is compatible with my box & my fixture then I'll definitely look at the saf-t-brace. – Ron Aug 5 '10 at 16:24

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