How to Fix Track Lighting

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Track lighting, whether used to illuminate art or as a flexible source of light in a living room or kitchen, is generally reliable and in most cases suffers from routine problems like burned out bulbs. Of course, since it has a number of different components like the track, the fixture heads, wiring bridge and more, over time, you may have to perform certain tasks to get it working if replacing a bulb doesn't do the trick.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Touch-type voltage tester
  • Dry cloth
  • New socket
  • Replace bulbs in track heads that aren't working. If bad bulbs weren't the problem, continue to the next step.

  • Turn off the circuit breaker that powers the light. Don't rely on simply turning off the wall switch as it could be accidentally turned back on while you're working.

  • Test the track for voltage with a touch-type voltage tester. Press the button on the tester and touch one tip to one of the metal tracks on the inside of the track, then touch the tip to the other track. If the tester beeps or lights up, the track is still live. Try additional breakers until you find the correct one.

  • Remove the track head that's not working. Removing it will depend on the manufacturer but many feature a button that when depressed allows the fixture to turn left or right until it can be pulled down and out.

  • Use fine-grit sandpaper to clean the section of metal track where the head was installed. Also sand terminals on the fixture. This will ensure a clean connection.

  • Wipe the track with a clean dry cloth to remove any dust, debris and/or residue.

  • Lift the metal contacts on the fixture head with a flat head screwdriver. This will help improve the connection between the fixture and the track. Be careful you don't lift the tabs too far or you could break the plastic around the terminal.

  • Replace the track light and turn the breaker back on. Test the track to see if the light comes on; if not, turn the circuit breaker back off and continue to the next step.

  • Remove the cover from the wiring connection where the track meets the junction box. Inside, you will see where the track connects with the wiring terminal. This is the wiring bridge. If the bridge isn't firmly connected, push it back in.

  • Pull the wires down out of the wiring box and make sure all connections are tight. If they are, push them back up into the box and replace the cover.

  • Turn the breaker back on and test the track again. If the light still isn't working, it may need a new socket.

Replacing a Socket in a Track Light

  • Turn the breaker off, remove the track head from the track and unscrew the bulb.

  • Remove the stem lighting cover on the track head to expose the socket wiring.

  • Remove the screws that secure the socket to the lighting can.

  • Pull the contact arm out from the track lighting fixture and disconnect the socket wires by untwisting the connection.

  • Insert a replacement socket into the fixture and connect its wires to the contact arm like the original ones were.

  • Reconnect the socket to the fixture can and reattach the contact arm.

  • Install the lighting can on the track and screw in a good light bulb.

  • Turn the breaker back on and test the new socket.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always use your tester on a circuit that you know is working before you test the circuit you are going to be working on. This is to ensure the tester is functioning properly.
  • When buying a replacement socket, make sure it is rated for the same wattage as the original one.
  • Photo Credit light image by Cristian Ilie Ionescu from Fotolia.com
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