How to Fix Fluorescent Tube Lights

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Fluorescent tube lights are an extremely common form of lighting in homes and businesses around the globe. While they can cost a bit more than traditional light bulbs, they are more efficient and longer lasting, making them cheaper over the long term. However, a fluorescent light tube will stop working eventually, and when it does, you will need to replace it or the fixture's ballast to get it working again.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver set
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire cutters
  • New light tubes
  • New ballast
  • New starter
  • Cut the power supply to the fluorescent lighting fixture. Do this by either unplugging it or cutting the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box.

  • Remove the old fluorescent light tubes from the fixture. Grasp the tube with two hands spread evenly across the length of the tube. Give the tube a quarter turn to align the pegs with the opening in the side of the connection point. Then gently pull the tube out. If the fixture has multiple tubes, it is recommended that you replace all of them at the same time.

  • Insert replacement tube. Align the pegs on the end of the tube with the slots in the connection points on either end of the fixture. Insert the tube and give it a quarter turn to secure it in place.

  • Turn power back on and test light. If it still doesn't work, you will need to replace the ballast.

  • Cut power to the fixture and remove the tubes. Unfasten the casing, or heat shield, to access the fixture's interior. This normally requires you to unscrew a couple screws. Locate the rectangular black box inside the fixture. This is the ballast.

  • Cut the four wires extending from the ballast as close to the ballast itself as you can. Undo the mounting screws and remove the ballast altogether. Insert the new ballast and mount it with the same screws. Then connect the wires, black to black, yellow to yellow, white to white, and red to red. Wrap each connection with tape to protect against accidental shorting out of the light.

  • Reassemble light and turn the power back on. If the light still doesn't work and you have an older fixture you may have a faulty starter. The only way to tell is to replace it.

  • Locate the starter. It is a small silver-colored cylinder that fits into your fluorescent fixture. You should see it on one of the ends. Remove it by pushing it in and turning it to the left. Then simply pull it out. Insert a new one and turn it to the right to lock it in place.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never work on an electrical job without being sure the power is cut.

References

  • "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Electrical Repair "; Terry Meany; 2000
  • "The Complete Guide to Home Wiring: A Comprehensive Manual, from Basic Repairs to Advanced Projects (Black & Decker Home Improvement Library; U.S. Edition)"; 2001
  • Photo Credit light image by Jan Will from Fotolia.com
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