Today I discovered that (at least) one of the ceiling lights in my house isn't mounted on a junction box.

As an added bonus, most of the wiring is fabric insulated copper. You can see the single wire coming from the light switch has cracked insulation.

I was going to move all of this into a typical round old work box, but then I realized it's directly below a joist. There are also wire clamps on the bracket that attaches to the joist, so this must've been acceptable at some point.

Looking for advice on what to do. I think the safest option is to move all the old wiring to a separate box in the attic and just bring the wires for this specific light (neutral and switched live) into a pancake box somehow mounted in the same spot.

The ceiling is about 1.375" thick with the rock lath, plaster, and foam ceiling tiles. I imagine I can fit a pancake box under the joist here, right?

Pic of wiring 1

Pic of wiring 2

1 Answer 1


If the joist is directly over the hole, there is a junction box (called a saddle box) that actually fits around a joist. I found them when I was looking for boxes for ceiling fans. This might keep you from having to do a separate box in the attic. I found some at Lowe's, but seem to be widely available, and come in various configurations depending on how the hole aligns to the joist.

  • Saddle boxes would be how I would tackle this to maintain the light position but I might add a box further back on the cable to get away from the cracked insulation if not completely replacing that circuit 1 down for safety, + for saddle box not many know about them.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 26, 2018 at 2:13

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