I went to replace a light in my hallway and there is no ground wire. There’s a red wire connected to the black wires from the light and a white wire. I noticed a bunch of black wires taped with electrical tape. I tested the red and white wire then the red with the box to test if the box itself was grounded- it’s not. The red and white produced the same charge over and over but with the red and the box touching, nothing happened. I wanted to replace this with a new LED fixture but don’t want to cause any issues without a proper ground. No cable was wrapped to the screw on the loose metal piece in the picture which I understand is used for grounding with modern lights. Thank you!! I included the metal piece the light was attached to, and the metal piece itself was attached to the metal box before I removed it to expose the wiring.

  • I should add the home is from the 1950’s. Thank you!
    – John
    Aug 3 at 23:24
  • 1
    Perhaps a better phrasing of your question would be "How do I safely and correctly install a new LED light with this existing wiring?"
    – Armand
    Aug 3 at 23:42
  • 2
    Ground is a nice option, but not really necessary for ceiling lights. Can you confirm the wire numbers coming from the ceiling? I count three black, four or five white, and one red. Whites and colours(blacks/reds) should match in amount. Red and blacks are hot, whites are your neutral. Is this light on a wall switch?
    – crip659
    Aug 3 at 23:42
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    Looks like some really substandard wire-to-wire connections, like the black wires only taped together(?) and one white wire seemingly turning into 4 white wires under some other tape. When you (re)assemble things you'll at least want to correct those issues with proper connectors like Wago or wire nuts.
    – Armand
    Aug 3 at 23:46
  • I apologize for the odd phrasing in my header! I didn’t notice until it was pointed out. There are 4 black, 4 white, 1 red wire. I do have additional wire nuts so that I can reconnect the wires that are in there if that’s recommended. There is one red cable coming from the side of the house faced away from the circuit breaker and 4 black coming from the side with the circuit breaker. This light is controlled by one motion sensor light switch
    – John
    Aug 4 at 0:55

1 Answer 1


The group of black wires are just feeds to other outlets, switches on the same circuit. The old 50's wiring didn't include grounds so you don't have a ground up there. That's why there was no ground wire attached to the screw on the fixture bracket. Ignore the ground wire on the new fixture and just tape it up or cap it with a wire nut. Hook your black wire from the fixture to the red wire and your white wires from the fixture to the white wire. The groups of wires are probably clamped or soldered and taped so I wouldn't mess with them unless you see that they're lose and want to redo them with wire nuts.

  • Perfect! Thank you! I didn’t know if it was safe, so I appreciate your knowledge!
    – John
    Aug 4 at 0:51
  • Two thoughts on those taped wires: 1) It's worked this long so it's good, don't mess with it. 2) It's worked for this long already, it's that much closer to failure! TBH, I'm not sure which I'd follow. I did discover a heavily electrical taped split nut holding some wiring in my house. Not knowing what it was, I pulled it (needed to get a wire out of it anyway) and replaced it all with modern wire nuts. Have since discovered that split nuts are still used and code compliant.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 15 at 15:17

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