- By Paul Kerr
- In Electricians in Charlotte NC, Handyman Services In Charlotte NC, Home Repairs and Remodeling
Save yourself a visit from the electrician and a hefty bill for 5 to 10 minutes of work. Handyman Brian Kelsey demonstrates a common household repair — installing a light fixture — and proves that this DIY job is not as intimidating as it seems. We promise!
Face it: not everyone is naturally confident about home repairs. There are so many fixes around the house that can be classified as too minor to call in a professional, but a little too intimidating to DIY. Installing a light fixture is one of them. Many of us often change the lighting we have in our homes to create a different type of mood, ambiance, or just for a little change. We got the perfect Pagazzi Lighting for our home, but now it’s time to do the fixtures.
It can be hard to find an electrician who will come to your house for a 5- to 10-minute job — and if you do find one, you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg. You might just want to check here before you completely rule it out, though. In the long run, you certainly won’t lose anything from learning to install a light fixture (or replace one) on your own. In fact, I replaced my son’s light fixture the other day. Watch how I did it!
The first and most important thing to do is to shut off the power to the fixture. Either shut it off at the main breaker, or simply turn off the light switch. If you do the latter, remember that electrical is still traveling to the fixture. I would strongly suggest putting a piece of tape over the light switch to prevent an accidental “turn on” by an unaware visitor. (In this case, my 7-year-old son.)
Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Tools: Screwdriver, voltage tester and electrical tape
Tip: Because you will be shutting off power to the room, it’s best to do this project in the daytime if possible — unless you have a portable battery-charged light to illuminate the area. Don’t work in the dark!
Step 1: Prepare the Light Fixture for Removal
If you decide to do the work yourself, read and follow the instructions and safety precautions that come with your replacement fixture. Turn off the power to the existing fixture at the main breaker box.
For any electrical work, you may want to consult a licensed electrician before you start. If you’re not comfortable doing electrical work yourself, consider leaving this job to the pros .
Step 2: Remove and Replace the Fixture
Remove the 1970s light fixture (Image 1).
Pull away the wallpaper covering from around the fixture (Image 2).
When bathroom restoration is completed, install period or reproduction light fixture.
Since my current residence is only half finished, there are a lot of fixture-less light boxes in the ceilings-which means I am tripping over tools in the middle of the night more often than I care to admit.
Electrical DIY projects are not a favorite of mine; probably a result of being shocked as a child by the current from a cut phone line (or perhaps the innate fear of sudden death by electrocution). But for simple electrical work around the house, a little knowledge and the right tools can make the work slightly less intimidating and-more importantly-lessshocking.
Here are a couple of things you should know about electricity and residential wiringbefore you get started.
– All electric power is fed through the meter to your breaker panel. If you shut something off at the panel there is no power to the wires or boxes in the house.
– Shutting something off at the switch does not necessarily mean that there is no power to the wires in the electrical box.
– When looking at wires, black or red is the current, white is neutral, and green or copper is ground.
– Don’t stick a bobby pin into an electrical outlet, even if your cousin dares you to.
What You’ll Need
To replace or install a light fixture, here’s what you’ll need:
– Voltage detector (not strictly necessary but highly recommended)
– Wire strippers
– Light fixture (a simple pull chain fixture is pictured but most fixtures install the same way)
– Work light/flashlight if working in an area without natural light
– Wire nuts (depending on your fixture)
Step 1: Shut off power
For some fixtures you can simply shut the power off at the switch, but I recommend always shutting power off at the breaker. If you’re lucky, the breakers on your electrical panel will be labeled. If not it’s a bit of a guessing game, shutting off breakers and then using the voltage detector to make sure the area you’re going to be working in isn’t “hot.” (The voltage detector will beep and light up when a current is present.) I always power down my computer before randomly flipping off breakers … just in case.
Step 2: Connect wires
A standard box for a light fixture will have three wires, a white (neutral), black (current), and copper (ground.)
A permanent fixture may have a plate that will be connected to the two screw holes on either side of the box, and I find it’s easier to have that done before connecting the wires (particularly on a heavy fixture that will need to be supported while wires are being connected.)
Wires may be connected to the fixture in different ways. In this case, the wires are wrapped around screws to make a connection. There may also be wires (of corresponding colors) in the fixture that would be connected to the ceiling wires with wire nuts.
In either case, use the wire stripper to remove 3/4? of wire sheathing. To attach to screw connections, bend the wire into a U-shape, wrap around the screw, then crimp the wire closed and tighten the screw. (White wire to silver screw, black wire to gold screw, ground to green screw.)
To attach wires to wires, twist like-colored wires together and then twist a wire nut over them.
Step 3: Attach fixture to box
This simple pull-chain fixture was attached with two screws that go directly into the box, but you may also have just one screw directly on to the mounting plate. Once the fixture is mounted, install a light bulb, turn the breaker back on, and let there be light.