Replace a Ceiling Light Fixture
Light up your life—from above.
By Matt Weber
Replacing an out-of-style ceiling fixture not only updates the look of a room because of the new fixture’s appearance, but the manner in which it casts light can also dramatically impact the ambience of the living space. From single-light fluorescents to elaborate dining room pendants, ceiling-mounted light fixtures are prominent features of the interior décor.
Ceiling fixtures range in style from elegant chain-mounted chandeliers with sparkling crystals and candle-style lighting to more modern track-style fixtures that feature multiple, adjustable lamps that operate from a single electrical box.
Regardless of style, the major concern when selecting a replacement feature is to ensure that the box, ceiling and wiring will support the weight of the fixture. For a new fixture that weighs approximately the same as the old one, the existing electrical box will probably suffice. However, if the replacement is heavier, the ceiling box may need to be replaced to support the extra weight.
Out with the Old
Replacing a light fixture doesn’t require an electrician. Following a few simple safety guidelines, a DIY homeowner can easily replace a fixture successfully, although the work should be inspected by a professional. Also, check with local authorities to see if a permit is required.
Before making your first move, turn off the power at the breaker box. Do this by flipping a circuit breaker or unscrewing a fuse. Use a voltage tester to make sure the power is off.
When removing the old fixture, use a work platform fastened to a ladder to support the weight of the fixture while you remove the mounting screws from the electrical box. With the screws out, pull off the box cover and disconnect the wiring. The wires should be twisted together and capped with a wire nut. To disconnect, just unscrew the wire nut and untwist the wire pairs.