How to Remove a Broken Bulb Base From a Recessed Ceiling Socket

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Light bulbs often break while still in the socket of a lighting fixture. Although a recessed ceiling socket is often inconvenient to access, you can remove a broken bulb base from a recessed socket quickly and easily with a ladder and a pair of pliers.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Clasp
  • Ladder
  • Eye protection
  • Turn off the light switch and the circuit breaker that controls power to the room in which you are replacing the broken bulb. If you are not sure which breaker controls the power, turn off the main power switch.

  • Set up and climb a ladder to access the socket containing the broken bulb. Use a step stool for lower ceilings. For higher ceilings, use a sturdy stepladder or telescoping ladder.

  • Insert needle-nose pliers into the base of the broken bulb. Expand the pliers so the outside edges of the tips apply firm pressure to the inside rim of the base. Turn the pliers counterclockwise until the base comes out of the socket.

  • Alternatively, bend one edge of the bulb's base with the pliers to create a lip. Grasp the lip with the pliers and turn the base counterclockwise until you can remove it. Use longer pliers or a long clasp for deeper light sockets.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many bulbs break when they are being removed because they were tightened excessively during installation. When installing a new bulb, tighten it only until you feel slight resistance.
  • Wear eye protection when removing broken bulbs from ceiling sockets. Shards of glass can fall into your eyes as you look up toward the socket during removal.
  • After shutting off the circuit breaker, engage the light switch several times before you remove the bulb to confirm that power to the socket is off.

References

  • "Black & Decker Basic Wiring & Electrical Repair;" Creative Publishing; 1991
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