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I am changing light fixtures and noticed that the end of the ground wire is not accessible from inside the electrical box. The ground wire simply passes through the box. I've gently tugged on the ground and it seems secured to something. There is only one 14-2 cable coming into the box and only the ground wire leaving it.

What is the best way to access the ground wire to properly ground my light?
Electrical Box

  • Can you provide us a close-up photo of where the wire purports to exit the box? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 25 '20 at 23:19
  • Are your wires copper or are they aluminum? – Jim Stewart Aug 26 '20 at 1:45
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    wires are copper (some white paint spray got on them). – TheMightyQuinn Aug 26 '20 at 2:53
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It looks like that electrical box has a mud ring installed on it. The box itself is clearly of a molded type construction such as a phenolic or bakelite or plastic material. If the mud ring is made of metal it is possible that the original installer wrapped that ground wire around the mud plate mounting screw in order to ground the ring. This could be the reason that you cannot pull the end of the wire free.

It is unlikely that the ground wire exits the box completely and travels off to some other destination. If that is the case you may be able to reach inside the box and cut the wire in a manner to maximize its length and then simply attach the light fixture ground to the end of that wire.

An alternative, while not optimum would be to bend the ground wire back on itself so that it comes to a double width point. Then use a green wire nut to attach a bare solid copper wire pigtail. Then the pigtail becomes available for connecting to the light fixture ground.

  • If the box is metal it is required to be bonded and a metal mud ring is part of the box so it is probably connected at the corner screw between the box and ring that’s how I usually do it.+ – Ed Beal Aug 26 '20 at 15:50
  • This is a plastic box, you can see the wide ribs in the back of the box if you look closely in the posted photo -- it'd be very strange to find a metal mud ring on a plastic box.... – ThreePhaseEel Aug 27 '20 at 0:02
  • @ThreePhaseEel - I already indicated that the box was phenolic, bakelite or plastic. I put the box in the OPs picture as most likely a brown bakelite box due to the molding style with sharp corners and wide ribs. Modern plastic boxes like the blue Carlon boxes just look different inside with integrated cable jacket retainers. The mud ring in the OPs picture sure looks like metal because of the thin screw hole mounting ears. A plastic or bakelite ring would have much thicker screw retention holes. – Michael Karas Aug 27 '20 at 0:45
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Tug the wire with a little more confidence -- it's probably just pinched somehow.

Failing that, if you want to leave the end captive as-is, then clean off the paint etc from the wire, cut it, and use a push-in or twist wire connector to re-join the two parts and provide a place for connecting the additional conductor for the light fixture.

Ideal brand push-in wire connectors

  • i tugged pretty hard and they seem secure. – TheMightyQuinn Aug 26 '20 at 2:58

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