Here’s How to Swap a Light Fixture the Right Way

When swapping light fixtures around your home, you don’t need to call an electrician to fix it for you. With no previous electrical or wiring experience, anyone can perform this simple task at home. The best part about changing or swapping light fixtures is that the job is a pretty universal process in and of itself. Here’s why. All the light boxes around the house are always the same size, and the wires connected to them are usually the same three wires. With this kind of knowledge, you don’t need to conduct extensive research regarding your particular situation. The only thing you need to be sure of, however, is that the size of the fixture you have in hand fits into the space you need to put it in. The size factor, though, isn’t something that needs to concern you much since you can go out and buy any fixture you can find – as long as the old and new installations are of the same size.

Ceiling fans, however, are quite different since some might be larger and have an extra wire connected to them. Where there was no ceiling fan, and you’d like it installed, you may need to call in an expert for that. Otherwise, if you are doing a replacement, then you can get another one and place it where the old one existed. The process of fixing a brand new fixture where none existed is a task suited only for licensed experts. This piece, however, puts in detail how to swap a light fixture the right way. Read on!

The Steps to Follow To Replace a Light Fixture Properly

  • Step 1: Turn off the power completely – The very first thing to do before you get into the whole process is to ensure that the power to the old fixture is turned off. You can switch off the power to the fixture you are looking to replace. However, if you are unsure whether it is really off or not, you can switch it off at the main socket. If you also suspect that your spouse, children, or roommate might accidentally turn it on while you are working on it, then it is also advisable to turn it off at the main socket. This ensures that all the bulbs in the house are dead, and you are safe.
  • Step 2: Remove the bulb cover and expose the fixture hardware – The bulb cover hides the unsightliness of the wires and hardware. According to Art of Manliness, many fixtures usually have a screw of sorts that holds the canopy in place. You need to undo the screws and nuts and expose the cover.
  • Step 3: Undo the three wires – Installing a light fixture translates to you connecting three wires that connect the installation to the ceiling. According to Dummies, the wires are usually white, black, and copper or sometimes green. When you expose the fixture hardware by removing the bulb cover, you should be able to see the three wires. At this point, you need to unscrew the wires and separate the ceiling wiring from the fixture wiring.
  • Step 4: Remove the existing light fixture. – After the three wires are unscrewed, the old fixture is safe and free to remove. At this step, it may come in handy to have someone help you out in case your hands get full or when the objects are cumbersome.
  • Step 5: Fix a new bracket – While this step is optional, it does come in handy to prevent you from fixing a new bracket every time you swap a light fixture. You might want to check the instructions on your fixture, though, before you dismantle the existing bracket. You need to take the bracket and align it with the base of the fixture to see which holes align with each other. As mentioned above, this step is optional. Always check to see if it is necessary to install the bracket as most times, the old one ends up getting reused.
  • Step 6: Connect the wiring – Before you get to connect the new wires, check if the existing ones are frayed. Frayed wires are most times brittle. According to The Spruce, the best way to insulate damaged or frayed wires is to conduct heat shrink tubing. This refers to the process of using a special plastic that will shrink up when some heat gets applied to it. After insulating the frayed wires, ensure there is a green or copper screw on the mounting bracket. The next step is to attach the bare copper wire from the light fixture to the screw on the bracket. Twist the wire clockwise then attach the power wires to the fixture wires. Use the same color sequence, that is, connect black wires to black ones, and white wires to white ones. Twist the wire securely using wire nuts clockwise until they are tight and in place.
  • Step 7: Adjust the length of the fixture if need be – At this point, you’re just about done with the installment. If your fixture doesn’t sit on the ceiling and has a chain to suspend it, then this might be the ideal time to fix or adjust it to the desired or proper length. Always check your fixture instructions to be sure of the appropriate length since each fixture is unique in its length specifications. If there’s a cord that needs securing or covering by the canopy, then this is the right time to get that going. Afterward, you can secure your new fixture using some screws into the plate.
  • Step 8: Turn on the power and test out your new fixture. – At this point, you should be more than impressed by your electrical skills. If the light doesn’t come back on after restoring your power, then there’s a considerable chance that you didn’t connect the wires correctly or securely. You need to pull down the whole fixture and inspect where you went wrong. Don’t worry if this happens. Swapping a light fixture is like riding a bike. You many not get it on the first try.

Nevertheless, if it works after reconnecting the fixture, you can now enjoy your new lighting.



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