We have a beautiful house built in the 1920s. I was changing over a light fixture when I found that the ceiling of the room is wired with rubber wrapped 12(?)gauge wire that goes into a metal pancake box attached to what I believe is a ceiling joist. Based on current code I think it's overfilled as it has one pass through common wire (that goes in and out without any termination), the common line, and 2 load wires that are spliced together (I'm not sure why there are 2 loads). The visible insulation appears to be in good condition. If I'm just changing a fixture I know I'm not required to make this code compliant.
My understanding with the reason for the code is excess heat causing damage to the conductors leading to insulation failure --> fire. The fixture is a chandelier that will be 3 feet lower with LED bulbs so heat and wattage should be much better than it ever was before.
My questions are:
Can I cut the pass through wire and wire-nut it? I figure yes but I wanted to make sure.
The box covering the ceiling has ample room to leave wires in it, to my mind that would be safer from a heat standpoint. I don't know if that's code compliant or stupid for a reason I'm not aware of.
Replacing the pancake is possibly doable but I'd then have to cut into the wood rafter to make room. I'd prefer not to do that out of concern for opening up a can of worms. I'm wondering if I need to replace the box.
Current wiring does not have a ground line. If I attach a ground to the metal box does that provide any safety gain?
Thanks for your help. Elmo