I took down an old floodlight that stopped working. Now that the floodlight is down, I think I see why it is not working. If you look at the image below, it looks to me like the seal on the floodlight had broken and was allowing water behind it. We had a heavy thunderstorm last night and the board behind the flood light is pretty saturated. What concerns me the most is the "burn" marks that appear on the electrical "sheath." See this image - am I safe to use the same electrical chord even tho it appears to have burn marks on it? Or should I call an electrician to run me a new line to this location?

(The reason I suggest running a new line, is I have tried to pull the wire to see if I can cut off the burned section and still have enough wire to work with, but when I pull the wire there is no play in it)

enter image description here

This is what I took off. No box included (which confused me, just wires from back of floodlight to wires coming out of wall) enter image description here

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    Please add a picture of what you removed - I suspect that there's a box missing, which is a classic shortcut (and error) in half-posteriored (or is that single-glute?) outside light installations. – Ecnerwal Apr 13 '20 at 15:36
  • See my edit - additional image included – HotTomales Apr 13 '20 at 15:46
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    The wire should be stapled, which is one reason why it likely won't just pull. My biased opinion (and how I read code, but it seems to be an unpopular reading) is that there should be waterproof wire to an outside light box, so a junction box inside to transition from NM cable to either UF cable or conduit and THWN is needed anyway.... Presumably you should check any other outside lights you have, as well. – Ecnerwal Apr 13 '20 at 16:08
  • Now that I think about it, I have a home with cedar planks as the siding. What is the chance that there actually is a “box” behind the cedar siding? I don’t have a ladder high enough to remove the entire cedar plank or I’d check right now. I’m going to have an electrician come and investigate. As far as other exterior lights, they are all the same way, wires sticking out of a hole in the cedar siding. I’m sure code was way different back in the 1970s when my home was built. – HotTomales Apr 13 '20 at 16:25
  • Code wasn't that different on this sort of thing, no; but your inspector might have been lazy or careless, or your outside lights might never have been inspected at all - homeowner self-install in an area with no permits/inspections or just without bothering to pull a permit and not getting caught. The light fixture reminds me of one I bought circa 2000. – Ecnerwal Apr 13 '20 at 16:28

This is EXACTLY WHY connections should be in a fixture or junction box! You may have had a short directly in contact with wood. If it were my house, I'd carefully open up that and after determining where exactly the wire goes (so as not to damage it further), cut an opening for a fixture box. A rotozip would be a good tool to use. Be sure the power is off to the circuit. You might be able to fit an "old work" box like this. This would also expose a bit more of the cable to inspect for damage. The wire might be a bit short to meet code, but that's something you could probably live with. If you're not comfortable doing this, yes, call a pro. Old work box

  • How should I close it off until an electrician can get here since the old floodlight is down and I have exposed wire and exposed to my attic – HotTomales Apr 13 '20 at 16:04
  • Shut down the circuit. Wire nut it and cover with plastic sheeting. – HoneyDo Apr 13 '20 at 16:07
  • Once I add the plastic sheeting do I need to leave the circuit off? Fingers crossed no... – HotTomales Apr 13 '20 at 16:27

It's hard to tell from the picture how bad the cable and wires are damaged. Inspect them. If the insulation around the wires is intact and not damaged and crumbling you should be okay.

However, what you should do is mount an electrical junction box there for the light. If you have any access from the inside, that would be easiest. There may be some play in the cable from the inside that would allow you to feed more cable out and you can cut off the burned section. You want to mount it on a stud or crosspiece of 2x4 and cut out a piece of the siding to give a close fit. You can then caulk around the outlet and box.
It appears from the picture that you had a short at the light probably caused by a loose connection and possibly moisture.
If there is plywood behind that siding and you can't get to the wiring from the interior you might be able to do it from the outside. Carefully cutting with a jigsaw and mounting the box to the plywood and/or any available framing. This assumes the wiring isn't compromised or you can find a way to get more play in it from the inside.
If you have access to any part of the cable from the attic you could cut in a junction box and run another cable to the light location. The junction box would have to be left accessible.

  • The wiring is coming from the attic, and the wiring is tucked under plywood. I am not sure where the closest stud is, I feel like it would be close tho as it is about 3 feet from a door frame (wouldn't there be a stud there for the door support? I tried pulling it to cut off the burned section but there is no play in the wire, that's why I thought I'd need a new line run. Sorry I should have included that in the OP i'll edit. – HotTomales Apr 13 '20 at 15:48
  • Hey HoneyDo. I was going to suggest a jig saw as well, but not knowing exactly where the wire goes, I thought a Rotozip (where you can set the depth of cut) would be a safer and easier tool to use. – George Anderson Apr 13 '20 at 16:12

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