Yes You Can: Replace a Light Fixture

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Some homeowners can be a bit reluctant about replacing a light fixture themselves because they think it is too complicated or needs an electrician to make sure it works properly.

Whilst you obviously have to be careful when working with electrical items in your home, it is a DIY job that you can tackle with greater confidence, once you have read some important tips and instructions that should help you replace a light fixture.

Changing your lights

If you have bought a stunning new chandelier from someone like Unique light fixtures, or some other great light fitting that you want to use to create a focal point in your room, you won’t really want to wait to see it working.

If you follow a few simple steps and adhere to specific safety instructions, you should be able to tackle the job of replacing your light fixture without having the expense or delay of waiting for an electrician to turn up.

Residential ceiling fixtures can be found in a variety of different shapes and sizes, but the majority of the time, you will find a central threaded hollow rod is being used to hold a light fixture like a chandelier in place.

The ceiling fixture then hangs by two screws that are attached to the fixture base that runs to either the outlet box or a mounting strap.

The fundamental thing to remember is that regardless of how a fixture has been suspended from the ceiling, the wiring should still be relatively simple to understand.

Wiring

One the areas that often confuses and concerns DIY homeowners is when they see a number of wires passing through the box and are not sure which wires to deal with and what each color stands for.

There are actually only three wires that you need to concern yourself with. A colored wire that is generally black more often than not, a white wire and a green ground wire.

You should find that these three wires are joined together with twist-on wire connectors.

Getting started

Having inspected the wiring and made yourself comfortable with what you are looking at, it is time to get started with the job of replacing the lighting fixture.

The logistics of working on a fixture that is above your head means that it can often be a lot easier if you can get someone to help you with the task. You will find that after you loosen the screws that are being used to hold the existing fixture to the ceiling box, you could do with a spare pair of hands as you juggle with the fixture whilst simultaneously working on the wiring.

Some light fixtures may be easier to handle than others but if you are installing something like a chandelier, you could definitely make the task easier if you get someone alongside you to lend an extra set of hands.

Step-by-step

First thing to do and for very important for obvious reasons, is to turn off the electrical power.

It is possible that you could find several different pairs of wires in the ceiling box and some of these wires may well be wired into different circuits to the one that you are working on. Always play safe and use a circuit tester to establish that the power is off even if you decide to turn the power off to the house completely rather than an individual circuit.

Once you are satisfied that all the wires in the box do not have any power going to them you can remove the light bulb cover and bulbs from the fixture.

Then unscrew the relevant nuts or screws that are being used to hold the fixture base to the ceiling box.

Carefully lower the fixture base and start to remove the electrical tape or wire nuts from the black, white and green wire. The black is normally the hot or live wire, the white is neutral and green is the ground wire, but is sometimes not present.

Proceed to attach the wires from the new fixture into the corresponding fitting where you just removed the old wires and use the wire nuts to secure them in place.

Once you are happy that the wires are securely attached and in the right place, raise and position the new base plate and secure it using the bolts and securing strap provided.

All that is left to do now is to screw in the new light bulbs and install the cover.

If you are suitably reassured that the new lighting fixture is secured and wired properly, turn on the power and enjoy the fruits of your labor and the satisfaction of knowing that you have managed to do the job without having to call in an electrician.

Jason Murray is an electrician. He enjoys sharing his experiences by posting online. His articles appear mainly on home improvement and industry websites.