I have hit an obstacle in my quest to replace my light fixture. The current electrical box in the ceiling is a very old type as shown in the picture I attached.

How does one go about removing this? I have searched high and low, even looking for older products and their manuals but no luck as this box seems to be ancient. The screws don't seem to come off? No matter how much I try they seem to be stuck on purpose. There is also what looks like a brace holding the box.

I appreciate everyone's time! enter image description here

  • Why do you want to remove the box? What's the distance between the two mounting holes for the faceplate/fixture? Sep 10, 2017 at 2:23
  • I am replacing the electrical box and it's bar for one that I'd rated for a ceiling fan. Sep 10, 2017 at 2:26
  • Distance between mounting holes is approx. 2 inches Sep 10, 2017 at 2:27
  • If that box is screwed into a ceiling joist with healthy screws, how is that not sufficient for a ceiling fan? Sep 11, 2017 at 5:59

1 Answer 1


At least two of those screws look like wood screws. the other a machine screw. The machine screw probably has a nut on the other end that is spinning when you spin the screw.

In all three cases, try grabbing it (a screw) with a pair of needle nose or regular pliers, and pull down on it while you turn counterclockwise. See it it begins to unscrew. Sometimes you can us a flat bladed screwdriver to apply pressure against a screw while you unscrew it with the right screwdriver.

In either case, as you noted you are installing a fixture rated for a ceiling fan, you will most likely want to gain access to the area above, or open the ceiling a bit further to secure the new mount. (They typically have spikes you are supposed to hammer into the wood, and for good measure holes to make it permanent).

Also, that is obviously some old wire. Just curious, are you going to put in new romex to control the light and the fan separately if the unit you have supports that?

Hope this approach works for you.

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