How to Safely Remove Light Fixtures


For most light fixtures in your home, changing the light bulb is the only maintenance required. However, you may need to remove a light fixture for replacement to update the room's décor or to more easily paint the ceiling or wall. Disconnecting a light fixture from your home's electrical system can seem daunting, but with a few precautions, it can be a safe endeavor.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • No-touch electrical tester (available at hardware stores or home centers)
  • Pliers
  • Turn off the wall switch that powers the light fixture. Turn off the circuit breaker for the electrical circuit at the main breaker box for the light fixture and its wall switch. Tape a note on the front of the breaker box indicating that electrical work is in progress if you are in a building with many occupants.

  • Place one hand under the globe or cover and loosen the retaining screws around the top edge of the light fixture with Phillips screwdriver using the other hand. Lower the globe or cover and place it aside. Unscrew the light bulb or bulbs and remove them from the fixture.

  • Loosen the light fixture retaining screws at the top of the fixture visible after you have removed the bulbs with a Phillips screwdriver. Twist the fixture slightly to one side -- the slotted mounting holes allow this -- and lower the fixture slightly down from the ceiling or away from the wall.

  • Place the tip of a no-touch electrical tester near the wires still attached at the back of the fixture. Check that you have turned off the correct circuit breaker if the tester beeps, which indicates there is still electrical current in the wiring. Do not continue until the power has been shut off to the fixture and the tester does not beep. Continue if the tester does not beep, indicating there is no electrical current in the wiring.

  • Unscrew the wire nuts by hand that join the wires from the fixture to the wires from the electrical box in a counterclockwise direction and remove them. Untwist the bare wires revealed after removing the nuts with a pair of pliers. Remove the green ground screw from the light fixture with a Phillips screwdriver, if necessary.

  • Lower the fixture from the electrical box and remove it. Do not turn the circuit breaker back on until you've properly installed another fixture over the electrical box.

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