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Old 22.03.2010, 20:11
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Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

I've recently moved into my new place and there's just a couple of wires hanging out of the ceiling where, in the UK, I'd expect a light to be. No problem, I thought, drill a couple of holes, smash in some rawlplugs and screw in the lights I've just bought from "evilshell" on here.

Hmm. The ceiling seems to be about 2cm of plasterboard, or something equally flakey, then something very solid that the drill cowers in fear of.

Is this normal? Are the ceilings here reinforced concrete or something generally? What next?
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Old 22.03.2010, 20:14
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

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I've recently moved into my new place and there's just a couple of wires hanging out of the ceiling where, in the UK, I'd expect a light to be. No problem, I thought, drill a couple of holes, smash in some rawlplugs and screw in the lights I've just bought from "evilshell" on here.

Hmm. The ceiling seems to be about 2cm of plasterboard, or something equally flakey, then something very solid that the drill cowers in fear of.

Is this normal? Are the ceilings here reinforced concrete or something generally? What next?

I had a similar problem. I solved it by getting a more powerful drill.
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Old 22.03.2010, 20:16
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

Yeah, Mr L and my son-in-law both find very important things to do elsewhere whenever they hear the dreaded words 'I just need a little hole in the wall'.
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Old 22.03.2010, 20:17
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

I just put the raw plugs into the "plasterboard" and put the lights up. They held up fine.
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Old 22.03.2010, 20:20
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

I'm not sure the 2cm will give enough purchase. It may for the living room lights (although I'll be scared to walk under them for a while) but I got fan lights for the bedroom and I know they'll swirl themselves loose and decapitate me in the middle of the night.

OK, so I just need a more powerful drill to show the ceiling who's boss.
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Old 22.03.2010, 20:30
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

instead of connecting the earthwire to the light fixture, i used it to secure the light fixture itself by threading it through and tying a knot in the wire. no drilling required - problem solved.

(yes, i subscribe to the half-assed school of DIY)
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Old 22.03.2010, 21:04
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

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I've recently moved into my new place and there's just a couple of wires hanging out of the ceiling where, in the UK, I'd expect a light to be. No problem, I thought, drill a couple of holes, smash in some rawlplugs and screw in the lights I've just bought from "evilshell" on here.

Hmm. The ceiling seems to be about 2cm of plasterboard, or something equally flakey, then something very solid that the drill cowers in fear of.

Is this normal? Are the ceilings here reinforced concrete or something generally? What next?

Adrian.
If your new place is less than 40 years old, fixing a light should be no problem.
The law here says, that where you have cables coming out of the cealing, there must be a outlet box. The same as used in the walls to fix plugs and switches. These boxes are 75 x 75mm with a 65mm round hole in the middle an made of hard plastic.
If you have one of these boxes, scrape away a little of the plaster in the hole and you will find 4 places in the plastic where you can screw a screw in.
Its much less work and bother.
Salut zamma
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Old 22.03.2010, 21:10
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

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Is this normal? Are the ceilings here reinforced concrete or something generally? What next?
Yes

Give you a tip - never try to change your bath tub yourself.
They are laid in reinforced concrete.

Do not ask me how I know.

If anybody ever wants to borrow a 2KW angle grinder with a 1 foot diameter diamond blade
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Old 22.03.2010, 21:14
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

You can also get these Y like hooks which when pushed through the hole in the ceiling, can then be retracted flat into a T shape.

These can usually support plenty of wait and thus require no drilling as long as the hole in the ceiling has a "larger" opening inside the ceiling for those leading edges of the Y/T hook to spread inside and thus stays in place.
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Old 22.03.2010, 21:57
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

Unfortunately, (a) I assume my building is over 40 years old and (b) there's no space "above" the hole. It's just solid something and two tubes in the ceiling shoot off horizontaly taking the wires away.

The Earth wire is visible, totally sheathed, and simply crosses the hole from one of the tubes to the next. In other words, it was never used and if I want to use it I'll have to cut it and extend it.

This should be so simple, but it isn't. It's just a light. Crazy.
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Old 23.03.2010, 10:47
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

Bosch do drill bits that will make short work of the job, they are about 12 chuffs a pop. I can't remember the exact name, but the are colour coded blue is 5-6 mm and should be spot on, the green one is 4mm but that may be a little light-weight (no pun intended). These bits are great and will go through tile/bricquetten no problem and sometimes concrete too if using only a cordless drill. If it doesn't work, you'll need to buy a hammer drill, you can get a cheapy in Jumbo for 49 chuffs, and use that bit and you'll be in business..... or pay someone to do it for you as a decent guy will hang them in quick time and it may be cheaper than buying drills and bits yourself

Also don't be tempted to use the expanding fitting for the fans as they may not take the weight and the vibration may loosen them over time. Same goes for fixing into the junction box itself as these are sometimes push fitted and plastered over so a heavy light may bring it down.
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Last edited by Papa Goose; 23.03.2010 at 11:32.
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Old 23.03.2010, 10:51
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

We had a lot of difficulty installing our lights too. Did two of the three ourselves and then had the handyman who came for another job do the third. He had the light up and on in less than 10 minutes because he had the right equipment. It's all about the size of your drill I suppose.
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Old 23.03.2010, 10:56
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

Yes, like Papa Goose said, you will need drill bits that are specially hardened for concrete or stone. A battery powered drill may be too weak for this. An electric drill would finish the job much faster.

I remember I wasted a bunch of drill bits on my first attempt at this.
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Old 23.03.2010, 10:57
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

Hammer drill and special drill bits as PG said. It's hard work, but you'll get there.
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Old 23.03.2010, 11:00
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

If you anticipate doing much DIY around the apartment it's well worth getting a cheap hammer drill as PG said. I found a nice old Bosch on Ricardo for around 50 francs and it came with a handful of concrete bits (all the right sizes too!), even an extension cord . A cheapie from Jumbo will probably last you years if you are impatient or want new.

One thing that's a pain in really old buildings is the concrete can have some really big pebbles in it. These love to shove your drill off center- lovely when you're hanging shelves .
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Old 23.03.2010, 11:18
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

I have a hammer drill. In London. And the extension cord isn't long enough ;)

I'm not planning on doing any other DIY in this flat so I'm tempted to admit that the simple task of fixing ceiling lights has defeated me and get someone to do it. PM sent!
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Old 23.03.2010, 11:37
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

i also had problems installing the celing lamp in my apartment. i took the lazy route and just got one of these and that was the end of it...

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Old 26.03.2010, 18:37
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

After calling in an expert (thanks Papa Goose for a great job at a decent price) it turns out that I picked the one part of the ceiling that wasn't easy to drill into.

With the right tools (mainly the right drill-bit and the confidence to know that it will work) it wasn't too difficult a job.

As Papa Goose recommended to me today, I also recommend anyone attempting this kind of thing to get hold of one of those cheapish "live wire" testing probes/screwdrivers. In my living room, the earth wire turned out to actually be a permanently live wire. Could have been an ouch moment!
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Old 26.03.2010, 19:52
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

I usually start drilling with a 2mm bit. When the hole is deep enough switch to the appropriate diameter. Make sure you're using Tungsten Carbide or similar. A water sprayer is useful for lubrication, and to keep the bit cool. But keep the water off anything other than the tip of the bit!

( If you need to, you're welcome to borrow my drill and bits ).
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Old 26.03.2010, 20:03
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Re: Drilling into the ceiling to fix lights

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OK, so I just need a more powerful drill to show the ceiling who's boss.
Thanks, gave me a good chuckle on a Friday - probably because it's just the kind of thing I would do. Last time I tried to show something who was boss, I ended up with an expensive repair bill on my hands.
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