The Safest Way to Change Ceiling Lights in Your Home

The Safest Way to Change Ceiling Lights in Your Home

We have all been caught staring at our ceiling, wondering how we will ever get up the courage to climb up a ladder and replace that pesky ceiling bulb or ugly fixture. This article looks to shed some light on replacing both ceiling bulbs and fixtures with some easy how-to tips.

Changing a Ceiling Bulb: Some ceiling fixtures can be especially tricky to figure out; we often find trouble with glass dome variations that sit flush to your ceiling. It can be very helpful to keep the instructions for your fixture stowed away for future reference (in fact, we recommend keeping the manuals for all of your complicated electronics in a file somewhere). Many of these fixtures don’t seem to have any points of access—screws, clips, etc.—so test the fixture by pressing firmly on the glass dome while twisting the entire light counterclockwise.

Replacing a Ceiling Fixture: This simple DIY task can easily transform the feel of an entire room, and is an easier project for handymen unaccustomed to electrical work. Below are some simple steps toward completing this task:

1. Turn off power to the fixture at the main circuit board. After you have lowered the old fixture by removing the screws that hold it to the ceiling, test the wires with a non-contact voltage detector to ensure there is no power running to the site.

2. Disconnect the old fixture from the power supply by removing the wire nut from both the white and black (in some cases, these may be red) wires.

3. Assemble your new fixture according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Do as much of this work as possible on the ground for safety’s purposes.

**Note: You will want to test your existing electrical box for its capacity and strength—it may impact your decision in picking a new fixture.

Weight: The National Electric Code (NEC) allows you to hang up to 50 lbs from a box that calls for No. 8-32 screws (this includes almost every fixture). Anything heavier must be supported by additional measures.

Capacity: The NEC also has regulations on the size of your box and how many wires may be fed into it. Most boxes will run 1.5 to 2 inches deep, and are thus large enough to accommodate most fixtures. If you run into a box that is only .5 inches deep, you will probably need to replace it.

4. Wire your new fixture to the power supply by connecting the white and black wires on the fixture to the white and black wires on the box, respectively. Twist each pair together and secure with an orange wire nut.

5. Connect the fixture to the ceiling by tucking the wires neatly into the box. Secure the crossbar to the box with screws—you may need a helper to hold the fixture as you do this. Finally, cover the box with the canopy of the light fixture and secure.

6. Turn the power to the fixture back on. Voila!