I removed a 10-15 lb light from my ceiling.

My ceiling light

Beneath, the electrical box was at an odd angle:

Angulated electrical box

So I pulled that off as well, which revealed this hole.

Hole where the electrical box used to be

Those nail holes which were holding in the box and, therefore the light, look like they're pretty close to the edge of the beam. That makes me wonder:

  1. Were they unsafe?
  2. Is there a code specifying how far into a beam screws should go?
  • the last photo shows what looks like a blue piece of the box was left behind. Did it break? – ojait Sep 10 '15 at 23:47
  • @ojait: No, I tore it out in pieces with a pliers since I could not get a hammer in to remove the nails. I pulled the nails out afterwards. – Richard Sep 11 '15 at 0:15
  • Was the mount on the left broken at the time of your removal too? I seen 2 small dark spots that looked like some nails were there in the framing at the center of the hole about 2" apart. – Jack Sep 11 '15 at 0:22
  • @Jack: no nothing was visible broken at the time I removed the box. The mounts on the side were just harder to remove, so I've left them in temporarily. – Richard Sep 11 '15 at 0:26
  • When was the house built? – WarLoki Sep 11 '15 at 0:38

The NEC code says that a box should be adequately supported. This means the installer should read and follow directions provided by the box manufacturer.

In your example the box was secured adequately just not properly. Proper installation would only allow the necessary overhang to flush up with the ceiling.

As for nails being too close to the edge, this should never be an issue if the installer were to follow the directions, know the NEC codes on luminare box support, and the structural integrity of the object they are attaching the box to.


yeah. It was installed incorrectly. It looks like a plastic box that was screwed through the box wall. That's what caused it to become slanted. It should have a metal mounting plate riveted to it. Or a extendible bracket to span between joists. Either way, now that it's removed re-install the correct type of ceiling box.

  • Thanks: aside from the NEC violation mentioned here, are you aware of any other code issues with the installation? – Richard Sep 11 '15 at 0:16
  • None that are obvious in the photo's. If the light fixture is more than 15 lbs. you will need to install a heavy duty rated box. They will have adequate brackets that help support extra weight. You can use a metal 4 inch ceiling box that have a mounting bracket to affix to the joist. – ojait Sep 11 '15 at 0:40
  • And to answer your second question: NEC wants junction boxes to be flush with the surrounding combustible surfaces. For drywall you don't have to be so critical. – ojait Sep 11 '15 at 0:47
  • don't forget wire clamps if you use a metal box. You might want to prepare for a few hours work. Also it might be worth considering opening an access next to box to make securing and wiring easier. – ojait Sep 11 '15 at 0:50

The box in question was a "new work" nail on box. It looks like somebody removed the box before by breaking it off from the blue piece on the right side. There is also a nail on the left that is in the correct spot for the nail that would have held it on the left, but it has no blue fragment.

My thought is somebody removed the box, a bit too forcibly, breaking the mounting, did what they needed to do and reset the box in place with the 2 nails you found which allowed the box to teeter out the way it did. No it was not safe for the retrofit nails in the position as they were for the weight of the light you have.

Here is the picture I added after my answer was posted... light box

  • I removed the box myself as part of repairing a house I just acquired. I am wondering if the proximity of the nails to the edge of the beam posed a safety concern due to fixture weight and if there is a code which would have prohibited such a placement. – Richard Sep 11 '15 at 0:28
  • 1
    I just seen your original post from August. Fix the situation as was already accepted as an answer. That will be your best solution. In my opinion, with the mounting that was intact up until you time of removal, yes the box was sagging but it would have not fallen out and hit somebody. Would I have left it that way?, no I would not. For now your only option is to replace the box. – Jack Sep 11 '15 at 0:52

To answer your questions. 1. No the box did not look like it was install correctly because the box was not made to have the nails in it. 2. No it is not a code violation to put a box next to a beam or on a beam, as long as the box is made for that application. You can go to the big box store and get a

Mounts to the side of beam or between beams

  1. Plastic New Construction Ceiling Box (Blue Box with wings and two nails)
  2. Plastic New Construction Hanger Ceiling Box (Blue box with metal support that nails to two beams and the box slides where you want it.
  3. Metal Remodel Ceiling Box(one like on your other post)
  4. Ect...

Mounts to the beam.

  1. Plastic New Construction Ceiling Electrical Box (Box is made to straddle the beam and screw in to it.)
  2. Metal New Construction Ceiling Electrical Box (Box is made to straddle the beam and screw in to it.)
  3. Metal Pancake Box. (Small Box made to screw to beam but not stick out from the sheet-rock)
  4. Ect....
  • I am wondering if it is a code violation to have the nails so close to the edge of the beam. – Richard Sep 11 '15 at 1:19
  • The code violation started when they nail in to a box not made to do that. As for distance in to the beam, I could not find a code reference other then boxes must be properly installed. Whom ever did this took a big chance that it would not fall down. – WarLoki Sep 11 '15 at 1:45

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