Changing a light fixture in a room with a cathedral ceiling can be difficult, because the light fixtures generally cannot be reached with standard ladders. Even if you can reach the fixture, the ladder does not provide enough stability for changing a light fixture or a place to set the fixture. Due to these constraints, you will need either a scaffold or a powered lift. Powered lifts are easier to operate but may not be feasible if the entry into the building or room does not allow a lift to pass through. Scaffolding can be brought in as separate pieces, so it can be placed nearly anywhere.
Things You'll Need
- Scaffold kit or lift
- Light fixture
- Flat and Phillips head screwdrivers
- Wire strippers
- Wire nuts
- 5-gallon bucket
Estimate the height of your cathedral ceiling if you do not already know it. If you are estimating, allow 10 feet per story. Rent a scaffold kit or electric lift that will allow you to reach that height, keeping in mind that the top platform height should be less than the ceiling height to allow you to stand upright while working on the fixture. Subtract your own height from the ceiling height to get the best estimate of how high the platform can be.
Set up your lift or scaffold kit directly under the light fixture you want to change. Follow all safety instructions that were included with your rental, including all railings and crossbars on scaffolds or all legs or outriggers on lifts.
Shut down the circuit breaker to the light fixture you will be changing.
Load your new light fixture, flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, wire strippers and wire nuts into the basket of your lift. If you are using a scaffold, place these items in a 5-gallon bucket and leave it near the scaffold's base.
Get into the lift and raise yourself to a height that is comfortable for you to work on the fixture. If using scaffolding, use a heavy cotton rope that is at least 6 feet longer than the height of the top rail on your scaffold and loop it around your arm. Climb to the top of the scaffold with the rope. Tie one end of the rope around the top rail of the scaffold once you are on the top platform, then lower the other end down to the ground and have a helper tie it securely to the bucket's handle. Pull the bucket with your supplies up to you and set it on the platform.
Remove all screws that hold the current light fixture in place on the ceiling and pull the light fixture away from the junction box it is attached to. Turn the wire nuts that tie it into the building's wiring counter-clockwise to remove them. Set the old light fixture in the base of the lift or on the scaffold platform, and be very careful not to bump into it while installing the new fixture.
Install your new light fixture according to its instructions, then pack all tools and the old fixture back in the bucket and lower it to the ground, or set them all in the base of the lift, and lower yourself to the ground.
Keep the lift or scaffold in place until you have tested the fixture to ensure it works.
Tips & Warnings
- Never work with wiring unless the power is shut off at the breaker. Simply shutting off the light at the switch does not provide adequate safety.
- Photo Credit Chandelier image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com
How to Change Light Fixtures
Changing a light fixture may feel intimidating but that doesn't have to be the case. Anyone can replace a light with a...
How to Install Ceiling Fans in a Cathedral Ceiling
During hot seasons, having ceiling fans can help to circulate air and cool weather from your air conditioner. During cold seasons they...
How to Change a Recessed Light Bulb on a High Ceiling
Recessed lighting offers a clean and modern look. It increases the amount of light in a room and updates the look of...
Cathedral Ceiling Lighting Options
A cathedral ceiling takes away the space between the roof and the ceiling. The ceiling follows the architectural flow of the roof,...
Ideas for Cathedral Ceiling Lighting
Cathedral ceilings offer a high, wide open space for the ceiling of a room, typically a living room or bedroom. The ceilings...