Home Help How To Replace A Ceiling Light Fixture

tech lighting Home Help How To Replace A Ceiling Light Fixture

tech lighting Home Help How To Replace A Ceiling Light Fixture

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With the wiring connected, the next step is to install the fixture base to the ceiling. The base will attach either by a threaded rod that attaches to the center of the ceiling mounting bracket, or with two small long bolts as shown above. If you are using a threaded rod, then just slip the fixture over the rod and fasten together using the knob provided with your fixture.

Heat shrink tubing is easy to use and very reliable. © Home-Cost.com 2011

OK, you’re just about done. Now just install two incandescent light bulbs. Do not use standard CFL light bulbs in an enclosed fixture because the CFL bulbs will fail and be a fire hazard. If you want to use CFL’s for some reason, you must make sure they are specially marked and rated for enclosed fixtures or for dimmer use!

Install the light by bringing the wires through the center knockout hole in the light fixture and pushing the toggle bolts through the holes in the ceiling or screwing directly into joists. Before tightening the screws completely, measure from each end of the light to a nearby wall to make sure it lines up with the wall and isn’t crooked. The bolt holes for toggles are much larger than the toggle bolt itself and can easily allow the light to turn slightly, becoming crooked.

With the old light fixture down, open up your new ceiling light fixture box.Carefully remove the glass shade and set it aside in a safe place. Remover the bag with all your fittings and bolts and set it aside.Remove the ceiling fixture base.

Pick a diameter of tubing that will go over the wiring but not be too big. If it is too big it will not shrink up tightly.Cut the tubing to length so that the exposed end of the wire will still be visible.

Slide the tubing about 3/4″ past the damaged area of the insulation.Apply heat to shrink the tubing by placing a hair dryer on “high” close to the tubing. Gently move the hair dryer back and forth to try and evenly distribute the heat.

Once the tubing shrinks up, remove the hair dryer, you are done!

If new holes are to be drilled into the ceiling, make sure they line up across the ceiling electrical box in a straight line with walls. Measure from a side wall to each hole to make sure the distance is the same for the center of the box and for each new hole; otherwise the light will be crooked on the ceiling.

Make note of the color of the wires. The white wire will normally go to the white wire on the light, the black to the black wire on the light and the bare or green wire to either a green wire on the light, the frame of the light, or to a small bracket still screwed to the box that is used to support the light. In some cases the colors may be faded or even never color coded at all; if so mark the black wire with a piece of tape or other method for future reference when you install the new light.

If you have a two lamp light fixture you may have an additional step in preparing the fixture. Your fixture may not have the hot and neutral leads for the lamp sockets wired together. In that case, twist the leads of the black wires together and then do the same for the white wires.

The solution in a case like that is to use heat shrink tubing.

Lamps removed, showing the attachment for a common wiring trough. Squeeze the sides of the trough together to release it from the clip holding it. | SourceThis light is one of a pair, with the wires feeding it coming in from left.

Single lights will most likely have wires coming in at the center of the light. | SourceThe wiring cover on this cheap, garage type light, has a fastener on one end (turn and pull to release) and a clip on the other end that it slides under.

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Turn the power back on and check the light for proper operation. You’re finished!

Begin by turning off the power. This can be done either at the switch or at the circuit breaker. If you choose the switch as quicker or easier, be aware that someone could turn that switch back on or you could accidentally bump it yourself, turning it back on. A piece of tape, holding it off, can help here.

OK, so you’ve taken a look at the existing wiring and it is in bad shape. It may be crumbling, brittle or may have an exposed wiring conductor. Ordinarily, you can just wrap 2 or 3 wraps of electrical tape around the damaged area. However, with old, brittle insulation, it will come apart and be made worse as you try to wrap the old wire and insulation with electrical tape.

Typical mounting of a ceiling light. The glass globe has been removed, exposing the bulb and mounting screws (behind the layer of foil) | SourceChecking the wires for power. This light is still “Hot”! | SourceTypical lighting bracket, mounted to the box.

This is on a wall light, but ceiling lights often have the same bracket. | SourceTypical light bracket for mounting a light fixture. The screws have been screwed in just temporarily, to keep from losing them.

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Remove the fixture shade. How you do this will depend on the fixture you have. You may have to unscrew little screws holding the shade in place, unclip some clips as shown in the photo, or just…MORE unscrew the glass shade from the base.

Once the ceiling fixture shade is removed, then remove the fixture base from the ceiling by unscrewing two little bolts that you will see attached to the base, or by removing a knurled knob fastened to a threaded tube in the center of the fixture as shown in the photo.

Once the fixture base is removed, disconnect the wiring by unscrewing the wire nuts and remove the fixture base completely.Next, remove the old mounting bracket.

Once the light bulbs are installed, just carefully install the fixture shade. This is usually done by twisting it on and aligning the grooves in the shade with the…MORE little bumps on the side of fixture base. Next, just turn on the light switch or restore power at the power panel and you’re done! 

Fluorescent fixtures are a little different. Wire connections are generally hidden behind a metal cover in the center of the light; squeeze the sides of that cover together to remove it and gain access to the wire splices. Remove any wire nuts and any ground wire screwed to the light fixture.

Once the fixture base is mounted securely to the ceiling you’re home free! Just install two incandescent light bulbs (or CFL bulbs specially marked for enclosed fixture use) and twist the glass shade into place. Hey, nice job!. © Home-Cost.com 2011

If your ceiling fixture is a two lamp fixture you may need to attach the wires together if it was not done at the factory. Twist the leads of the black wires together and the leads of the white wires together. © Home-Cost.com 2011

There is absolutely no reason that the average homeowner can’t learn how to replace a ceiling light in their own home and do the work themselves. As an electrician I’ve installed literally thousands of lights; it is usually one of my favorite parts of the job as the work is usually quick and easy and it definitely shows that something is being done when the room lights up for the first time.

The next step is to inspect the condition of the existing wiring’s insulation. The insulation used on old wiring can fray and become brittle. In the above photos you can see how the insulation is brittle and wiring is actually exposed. This condition is very dangerous and can create short circuits and fire hazard.

Attach the new light to either the bracket or to the box itself, using screws that will have come with the new light, and assemble any glass globes and lamps.

Sounds like an easy home repair, and, generally, it is pretty simple. But sometimes dealing with old wiring and electrical boxes in ​plaster ceilings and walls can be a bit tricky. This tutorial will show you the different things that can happen when you replace a ceiling fixture in an older home.

Remove the two screws and gently pull the light away from the ceiling. It may well be stuck to the ceiling with paint or simply age; if necessary work a small screwdriver or knife blade between the light and the ceiling and work it around until the light comes free. It may be helpful to have some help here as the light is still wired and must be held up while the wires are disconnected.

Unpack the new fixture. Open the bag of fasteners and mounting bracket and keep in a safe but handy place. © Home-Cost.com 2011

Connect wires, black to black and white to white. Twist together in a clockwise direction and fasten with a wire nut. © Home-Cost.com 2011

Sometimes you can use the old mounting bracket if the screw holes will work. In this case we will reuse the old bracket because the old bracket uses a center post attachment that does not work with the new bracket. © Home-Cost.com 2011

The wires were brought out past the bracket for easy splicing to the light. Note that there are three wires in each nut; the two in the box are for an additional light located elsewhere. | SourceAlthough this light came with a bracket it will not be necessary to use it.

The holes in the light line up with those in the box, making the supplied bracket redundant. | SourceThe new light is wired and ready to be installed. No bracket is needed as the mounting holes in the light line up with those in the ceiling box | SourceThe light is installed and ready to be turned on.

Time involved was under 30 minutes. | Source

Turn the breaker back on and flip the switch to verify that the light works. You’re finished!

Heat shrink tubing is a special plastic…MORE that shrinks up when heat is applied to it. 

Issues you may…MORE run into include crumbling insulation on old wires, reusing old ceiling fixture mounting brackets and mounting screws being obstructed by a plaster wall. This tutorial will lead you through every step of the way.

With the ceiling light fixture base prepped, it is time to prep the fixture mounting bracket and decide how you will mount the bracket. Your light fixture came with a mounting bracket in the plastic bag of parts you set aside a couple of steps ago. Take it out and let’s see what we have to do with the mounting bracket.

There is an absolutely huge array of different light fixtures available. Nevertheless, they will all mount much the same way and will all be wired the same. The only real problem is choosing what you would like to see in your home.

Unscrew the wire nuts splicing the wires together and remove the light, setting it aside for disposal. If there is a metal bracket screwed to the electrical box it may be re-used for the new light – compare it to any new bracket and if similar it can probably be left in place. If not, remove the bracket from the box and discard it. Old wire nuts should not be used; discard them with the old light.

Attach the black wire in the box to the black wire on the light, using a wire nut. After the two are spliced together, hold the nut in one hand and tug firmly on each individual wire, making sure that the splice is good. Better that they come apart now than later as they are pushed into the box. Attach the white wire the same way, to the white wire on the light.

Turn the wall power switch controlling the light fixture to the off position. If there is any chance another person could turn on the switch while you are working (e.g., children or spouse) then turn off the power at the main power panel.

Reattach the black, white and ground wires. The black wire splices to the black light wire, the white to the white light wire and the bare ground wire is looped around a green ground screw in the light and the screw tightened. Check the splices by tugging on the wires, reinstall the wiring cover, lamps and any lens of the light fixture.

It’s doubtful you will installing one of these, but ordinary home lights are easy to replace. | Source

Compare the old and new fixtures; if the mounting holes are in the same place, the same holes in the ceiling for toggles can be used. If not, a new hole must be drilled in either the ceiling to match the new light or in the new light to match the ceiling. Most toggle bolts will fit through a 5/8 hold drilled or cut through the sheetrock. If toggles are to be used, 2 new toggle bolts will be needed as 1/2 of the old one is still buried above the ceiling. These may come with your new light, or may have to be purchased separately.

With the old fixture out, it is time to install the new ceiling light. Install any bracket that came with your light onto the ceiling electrical box according to instructions with the light, and bring the black, white and bare ground wire out past the bracket so that they are accessible. If there is no green wire on the new light, the ground wire will attach to a green screw on the bracket itself.

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First, take the bracket and align it with the fixture base bolt holes to see which holes in the bracket have to be used. In the upper left photo you can see that the outer most…MORE bracket holes are what need to be used.

Next, you have to see if you can use the new bracket or if you can use, or have to use the old bracket. In the upper right photo you can see which existing mounting bracket holes line up with the new bracket mounting hole.

This particular bracket is in a home from 1939. Although the construction quality is good, the new bracket will not work with the existing construction. There are no ceiling junction box screw holes available to fasten the new bracket, and the center post fastening the existing bracket to the ceiling electrical box is too large a diameter to work with the new bracket.

Bottom line, the old bracket will have to be reused.Reusing the old bracket actually makes the work easier in one way, as the bracket is already in place. However the holes that need to be used are blocked with a plaster ceiling behind them.

TIP: The trick around this problem is to drill out the ceiling behind the bracket holes you need. (If a drill was not available you can use a nail and a hammer to punch through the old ceiling behind the bolt hole).

Take a 1/8″ drill bit and test fit it in a bolt hole (with the drill off) to make sure the drill is smaller than the small mounting bolt hole and that the drill bit will not damage the screw threads.If the 1/8″ drill bit is too big, use a smaller appropriately sized bit.

Drill out the ceiling behind the mounting bracket bolt holes.

Removing an old light fixture is generally pretty easy. © Home-Cost.com 2011

Fluorescent fixtures are most often held up with toggle bolts through the sheetrock ceiling or possibly with screws into the ceiling joists. Either way, with the wires disconnected remove these bolts or screws and lower the fixture. It will be much easier if help is available here, although it is certainly possible to do the job with one person – very few electricians will work in pairs when installing these lights and it is always done with just one worker.

New Ceiling Light FixtureWire NutsElectrical TapeHeat Shrink Tubing (if needed)Electric Drill and 1/8″ Drill Bit (if needed)

Once in a while we might run into a very large chandelier or other light that takes hours to just assemble, but most lights in homes are relatively small and easy to work with. The photo above is such a light, but how many homeowners have something like that in their home?

So, you want to replace your ceiling light fixture. Maybe you just want to update the look in your room. Or possibly you want to replace a ceiling light fixture that is just plain ugly.

Push the bolts through the insulation on the fixture base until the bolts protrude through. Then turn base to lock in place and tighten bolts. © Home-Cost.com 2011

Let the lamps or bulbs cool to the point that they can be handled and remove them. Remove any glass globes or any other parts as necessary to reveal the screws holding the light to the ceiling. Most home light fixtures will have two screws holding the fixture to the electrical box above, although the long, four foot, fluorescent fixtures often have one screw at each end. The long fluorescent fixtures are treated a little differently and are covered in a different section, below.

Once the existing wires are insulated (assuming they were damaged) then it is time to connect the wiring up for the ceiling light fixture as follows:Make sure there is a green ground screw attached to the mounting bracket; Attach the thin bare copper ground wire from the fixture to the ground screw, twisting the wire clockwise under the screw head; Next, attach the fixture wires to the power wires, black to black and white to white.

Use wire nuts to secure by twisting the wire nut clockwise…MORE until tight.

It is critical that wire insulation be intact. Electrical tape can be used to protect damaged insulation unless the insulation is breaking apart and disintegrating when moved as was the case here. In this case heat shrink tubing is the best option.

© Home-Cost.com 2011

This is a good time to exercise some elementary electrical safety and use a non contact voltage detector to check that the circuit is actually dead. These are inexpensive safety related tools and there is always one in my pocket when doing electrical work. They can prevent getting a nasty electrical shock, never much fun and even less so when standing on a ladder high in the air.

Thread each bolt into the appropriate mounting bracket…MORE holes a few turns;Next, you will have to push the bolts through the fiberglass insulation on the back of the fixture (if it has any) and though the two holes in the base of the fixture;Once through the holes, slightly twist the fixture base in the direction necessary to have the bolts slide into their locking groove s allowing the bolt heads to be fastened against the base.

Tighten the bolts and fasten the base to the ceiling.

The first step in replacing a light is always to remove the old light, so lets start there.

You’ll find that heat shrink tubing comes in a variety of sizes. To install it just proceed as follows:

If your fixture uses the two small long bolts, then proceed as follows:

Home Help How To Replace A Ceiling Light Fixture