How to Replace a Light Fixture

Like every other fixture in our house, the hallway light fixture was old (probably original to the house), rusty and covered in paint. So I picked up an inexpensive ($11), unoffensive (white) light fixture at Home Depot one day and spent a few minutes of my Saturday on what turned out to be a pretty simple project.

When you buy a light fixture, you get a base, which looks like this on one side…

And like this on the other side (the insulation goes against the ceiling).

You also get a globe…

And a bag of doohickies.

First thing’s first: TURN OFF THE BREAKER. No zappers, please. We found this cool industrial light in our attic during an earlier project and used it for light. But if you don’t have any industrial lamps, we recommend you try this project during the day time.

Next, unscrew the old globe from its base.

Then take out the light bulb…

And unscrew the old base from the ceiling.

If your light fixture is as old as ours, your screws might be this grody too!

I know. This is kind of a mess. But what you’re looking at is the junction box sitting up in the ceiling, holding the wires. A black wire and a white wire in the ceiling are connected to corresponding wires in the light fixture and held together by “wire nuts” which are those black plastic hat thingys. There’s also a “mounting strap” which is a strip of metal that screws into the junction box, and the fixture screws into the mounting strap.

So just pop off the old wire nuts and disconnect the wires. You are now done with the old fixture.

Remember how the insulation part of the new base had a white and black wire on it? Just connect the white wire in the fixture to the white wire in the junction box by kinda wrapping the wires around each other (pictured).

Then put the new wire nut on by using a screwing motion. Repeat with the black wires.

Next, take the mounting strap and screw it into the junction box. This part is really awkward because you can’t see what you’re doing AT ALL and  you just have to kinda guesstimate what’s going on.

When you’re screwing the mounting strap to the junction box, you’ll put the shorter screws through the long holes.

The long set of screws that came in your bag’o’doohickies will go in one of the holes above the long strip. Whether it’s the inside hole or the outside hole depends on your fixture base, and we had to play around with it a little bit before we had the screws in the right place.

Screw the long screws in JUST ENOUGH that they stay on their own. You need as much length as possible.

Put the new fixture base in place against the ceiling and try to get those two long screws through the holes in the base. They will ONLY BARELY make it through, but once they do, twist the base a bit then screw them in until tight.

New bulb…

Globe in place…breaker back on and…


That means the hallway walls and ceiling are painted, the doorbell and light are replaced and all that’s left is replacing that ugly attic door! Yay!




3 Responses to “How to Replace a Light Fixture”

  1. 1 Dude February 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    No energy efficient bulb? Looks good btw!

    • 2 rosemaryonthetv February 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      We figured we’d use up the existing bulb while it still had a bit of juice. No need to throw away a working bulb. 🙂

  1. 1 A Hallway Update! « rosemary on the tv Trackback on February 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm

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