How to replace a light fixture

Posted by on December 25, 2005

Necessary Tools:
Continuity Tester
Circuit Tester

Required Materials:
Wire Nuts
Light Fixture

Estimated Time to Complete:
Beginner: 45 Minutes
Intermediate: 30 Minutes
Expert: 20 Minutes

Safety Tips:
Make certain the light fixture is firmly in place before turning power back on. Never leave or use a fixture hanging loose from the wall or ceiling.

Always make sure that power is off to the circuit you are working on. Just flipping the switch isn’t good enough, especially when other people are around.

Getting Started: Removing the Old Fixture
Turn off the electricity to the light fixture at the main panel. Leave the switch on to make sure power is really off. Remove the globe of the old fixture by loosening the retaining screws and pulling gently. Now, remove the mounting screws or turn the fixture slightly to free it from the loosened screws. Now, gently pull the fixture away from the box to expose the wires.

At this point, you will probably see some wire nuts. If not, carefully pull a little more wire out of the wall / ceiling. When you have located the wire nuts, twist each one off while being careful not to touch the exposed ends of the wires with your fingers or to eachother. Test for current by touching one probe of the tester to each of the ends of the bare wires. Now, test from the bare black wire to the metal box. Try it with the wall switch in both positions and make sure the tester does not light at any time. If the tester does not light for any of those tests, the wires are safe to touch.

Now, you can un-twist the wires and remove the fixture.

Reassembly: Installing the new fixture
It is advisable to always select a replacement fixture that has the same ratings as the old fixture. To avoid the need to repair the ceiling, choose a fixture with a base at least as wide as the old fixture. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to hang the new fixture.

You’ll next want to twist the copper stands of the black fixture wire together, then attach it to the black circuit wire with a wire nut. Do the same for the white wires. Now, make any insulation is in place on the new fixture and fold the wires in gently. Then you can lift the light fixture flush to the electrical box. Now, attach and tighten the mounting screws, screw in a light bulb and replace the globe. All that’s left is to turn the switch off, restore power to the circuit, and then turn the switch back on to see how your new light fixture looks.

* When doing electrical work, always remember to check local codes. Our instructions are just general ideas of the necessary steps.

One Response to How to replace a light fixture

  1. Lucy

    Thank you for your clear description. However, I am still having trouble.
    Would you please describe how to align the mounting screws with an existing ceiling bracket?