How to Repair Light Fixtures

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Troubleshooting a light fixture is usually a simple matter of testing a few components. The problem is nearly always with the light bulb, a loose wire, the switch or the circuit breaker. Before you call an electrician and wind up with a huge bill, do a little troubleshooting. You may be able to repair light fixtures on your own and save a bundle.

Things You'll Need

  • Light bulbs
  • Voltage meter
  • Screwdriver
  • Remove the light bulb and use a voltage meter to verify that the socket is receiving power. Place one lead of the meter on the center of the socket touching the brass contact, and the other on the threaded metal where the bulb screws in. If the needle on the meter jumps, the socket is receiving power. Try another bulb; the last one may have been defective.

  • Check the breaker box for tripped circuits or blown fuses. If no circuits have been tripped, shut off the power to that part of the house by flipping the correct switch.

  • Remove the cover plate on the light switch. Check the wires to see if any are loose or disconnected. If so, reconnect and tighten, then replace the plate, turn the power back on and test the light. If it still doesn't come on, flip the power off again.

  • Take the switch plate off and disconnect the switch from the wiring. Take it with you to the hardware or home improvement store. Purchase a replacement with the same amp and voltage ratings.

  • Replace the switch unit by connecting the wires. There will be two black wires and one bare copper wire. Locate two screws on one side of the switch, make a loop in the bare end of one black wire, slide under one of the screws and tighten. Repeat for the other black wire. Either black wire can be attached to either screw. On the other side of the switch there will be a green screw. Attach the bare copper grounding wire to this screw in the same way. Replace the switch plate, turn the power on, and test the new switch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Light bulbs that burn out consistently may be the wrong wattage for the fixture. If you're using the right wattage bulb and you still have frequent burnouts, it may be an indication of an electrical problem, which may lead to a fire. Call an electrician and get the wiring checked out.

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