Member Since Oct 3rd, 2010
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Oct 3rd 2010 5:49PM for homeowners - yes turn off the breaker. for electricians like myself that's just unnecessary overkill.
the wires shown in the ceiling box are old cloth asbestos covered bx wires that are typically cracked leaving the conductors uninsulated, and a lot of times unidentifiable. bottom line - if your house has these wires do not attempt wiring projects yourself. simply touching, disturbing, or moving these could result in much greater issues that if not addressed will create an unsafe condition, if not burn down the house.
and lastly - just noticing here - but the "new" fixture shown has had the fiberglass insulation removed from the back of it. wrong. first off that isulation stops airflow between levels of a home ie attics to living space, therefore stopping drafts. secondly the purpose of that insulation is to stop the rising heat from the light bulbs inside the fixture from cooking and drying out the wiring above it.
my boss charges $135 for the first half hour of a service call for myself or any of my coworkers to come to your house, and for a simple fixture replacement like this shouldnt take more than a half hour.
old house - old wiring - call an electrician.
newer house - newer wiring - a handy diy'er - go for it, but we're only a phone call away.