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I purchased a new LED flushmount ceiling light. I removed the old flushmount fixture that used two standard light bulbs. The old light fixture required two black and two white wires at the fixture, but the new LED light only requires one of each. This seemed like an easy fix, but then I took a closer look at the wiring.

This is a 1950s house and the wires are not quite the black/white/green I am used to. There are white wires, purplish wire (maybe a faded brown) and blue wires (ground? maybe a faded green).

Further, the fixture had a strange wiring setup. I attached a photo and a sketch I made to explain. In my sketch I used black to represent the purplish/brown wires, yellow to represent white wires, and green to represent the bluish wire.

1) There are three black wires that terminate in a wire nut. 2) 2 white wires in a wire nut with another white wire pig tailed to another wire nut. 3) This is other wire nut has the white pig tail with another white wire from the ceiling. Then there are two white wires that went to the old fixture. 4) Lastly, there is a ground wire (assuming the blue wire is ground) in a wire nut with two black wires that went to the old fixture.

My question - is this as simple as replacing the two white wires that went to the old fixture with a single white wire from the new fixture (and the same for the black wires)?

The thing that really confuses me is the blue "ground" wire with the two black wires to the old fixture.

I apologize if this post is a bit of a ramble - I am not an expert and not familiar with older wiring.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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  • Can you post a clear photo looking up into the back of the box? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 9 at 2:13
  • @ThreePhaseEel - Yes, just let me wait for some daylight! – Tanner Jan 9 at 13:56
  • Added some photos - did the best I could... difficult to get a photo inside. – Tanner Jan 9 at 17:32
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Hook it up exactly like the old lamp was

Do not disturb any of the uninvolved wires: this is the mistake that gets a lot of people into trouble, they take them all apart and then get confused. Every wire has a job. They are not color coded; the color codes are to distinguish the wires in a cable and are not reliable for indicating a meaning or purpose.

The old fixture had 2 blacks and 2 whites simply because it had 2 bulbs. It's no big deal. Put the new lamp's white wire where the old lamp's white wires went. Ditto black. That is all.

The blue wire is obviously not ground, since it has a black wire going to it. One of the few reliable color codes is that green, yellow-green stripe, and bare wires are always and only ground. I doubt that is a ground wire, I believe it's a blue wire and your house is wired in metal conduit. Conduit allows arbitrary wire colors to be used (which can make colors more meaningful) and metal conduit provides a ground path so fewer ground wires are needed.

  • I tried hooking up the new fixture by replacing the two black wires that went to the old fixture with the single black wire on the new fixture and replacing the two white wires that went to the old fixture with the single white wire on the new fixture. I screwed the ground wire from the new fixture onto the mounting bracket (which is the same as the old fixture) and pushed the wires up into the outlet box. I turned the breaker back on, flipped the switch, and no light! I checked the outlets that are on the same breaker and they all have power... not sure what to try next. Any thoughts? – Tanner Jan 10 at 4:05

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