Replacing a light fixture yourself should theoretically be a simple job, but when things go wrong and you start to encounter problems it can get very tricky indeed. However, with a careful 10 minutes of work you can save yourself a visit from the electrician, so it’s certainly a skill worth mastering.
Here is our step-by-step guide to hanging a ceiling light fixture – without electrocuting yourself or breaking the fixture. It’s not as scary as it sounds, we promise! However, if you think you won’t be able to handle it, we recommend visiting home-proelectric.com/cambridge-electrical-panel-upgrades/ to get help from a professional.
- Get someone to help you
This can be a pretty fiddly job to do on your own, so it’s best to get some help if you can, especially if you’re replacing a chandelier light fitting.
- Take precautions to avoid electrocution
You might think that turning off the breaker is enough, but actually you could still end up getting an electric shock. Some junction boxes contain wiring from more than one circuit, so even if you are cutting power to the light fixture there could still be live wires in the junction box.
Use a circuit tester to turn off the power to your entire house. This way the wires in the box will definitely be dead. Therefore, it is best to do this job in the daylight if you don’t own a battery-charged light.
- Remove the current fixture shade & plate
This may involve unscrewing or unclipping it. Unscrew the old light bulbs as well and set to one side. Next remove the fixture base from the ceiling box by unscrewing the screws or nuts holding it in place.
- Access the wiring
Lower the fixture base and remove the electrical tape or wire nuts from the green (ground) wire, the black (hot) wire and white (neutral) wire. It is worth bearing in mind that some times in older homes the wires may be hard to distinguish, and there may not be a ground wire at all.
- Attach the mounting bar
The new fixture usually comes with a mounting bar. You need to attach this to the screw holes inside the electrical box in the ceiling. If the fixture you bought doesn’t include a mounting bar you can buy one separately.
- Attach the wires to the new fixture
Now you can connect your new fixture to the three wires. Do the ground wire first if you have one. Next, take the copper wire and wrap it around the green ground screw on the mounting bar. Twist the rest of the fixture wires around the wires from the house in a clockwise direction.
- Replace the wire nuts
Twist the wire nuts onto the twisted wires, also in a clockwise direction. To make it extra safe you could wrap the wire nuts with electrical tape to make sure they stay put.
- Replace the fixture plate
This could be different depending on your light fixture, but generally it should fit onto the screws coming from the mounting bar, and twist into place. Make sure you tighten the screws.
- Add the new fixture
Place the glass cover – if this is the kind of fitting you have – onto the new fixture and screw it into place.
- Turn it on!
Finally you have installed your light fixture! Replace the bulbs, put the power back on and if you have carried each step out correctly you will have light.
Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of Powertricity, leading electricians in Redditch and the surrounding Midlands area.