how to install a light fixture

Quick Fix: How to Install a Light Fixture

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In 1878, a successful banker named Junius Spencer Morgan had a son who introduced him to a new investment he was making. His son hoped to make a name for himself and make his father proud. Morgan viewed the investment and called his son a fool. His son was J.P. Morgan and the investment was in Thomas Edison’s electric light bulb. J.P. Morgan and Edison would form the company that would eventually become General Electric and change the world.

Installing a new lighting fixture in your home may not change the world; however, it can give your home a whole new look for a moderate price. It is a quick fix that can significantly dress up the house. So here’s how to install a lighting fixture.

Possible Tools Needed:

  • Screwdriver
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Electrical Tape
  • Wire Nuts
  • Electric/Voltage Detector

Instructions:

  1. Turn off the power at the breaker panel. (You do not want someone accidentally flipping the switch while you are working on it.)
  2. Remove the old fixture.
  • Unscrew the decorative bolts and remove the outer shell or glass.
  • Unscrew the light bulbs.
  • Loosen the screws attaching the base to the mount. If there is a keyhole, just loosen the screws until you turn the base and slide it off. If not, just remove the screws altogether.
  • The fixture base is being held up by the wiring. Take a picture of all of the connections with your phone so you can remember the configuration.
  • To ensure safety, using a volt detector, check to see if the wires are live before removing. If you do not have a volt detector, turn the switch to the on position. If the light does not turn on or the volt detector shows no voltage, you are safe to proceed.
  • Undo the wire nuts to separate the fixture wires from house wires. Also, undo the copper grounding wire which should be attached to the mounting bracket.
  • Remove the mounting bracket. Your new lighting fixture should have a mounting bracket that goes with it.
  1. Screw in the new mounting bracket to the outlet box. If you are hanging a chandelier, there may be a center stud that attaches in the middle of the bracket.
  2. Take the base of your new light fixture and locate the bare copper wire. This is the grounding wire. Wrap this wire around the separate screw on the mounting bracket and tighten. Normally, this screw is marked green. If there is a bare copper wire also coming out of the outlet box, put it together with the end of the fixture ground wire. Twist the ends together and screw on a wire bolt.

*There should be two main wires coming out of the outlet box, one black (sometimes red) and one white. The black wire is the hot wire, the white is the neutral one.

  1. Take the white wire from the fixture and match it with the white wire from the outlet box. Line up the ends and twist together and cover with a wire nut. Then twist the black wires together and cover with a wire nut.
  2. Stuff the wires up in the mount box.
  3. Screw in the long mounting screws 2-3 revolutions so they appear to hang down. Then mount the fixture on to the mounting screws by putting the keyholes over the screws. Push the fixture up so the screws come through the keyholes. Turn clockwise so the screws are over the smaller section of the key holes and tighten the screws.
  4. Carefully place the cover or shade and lock into place with the decorative bolt(s).

Enjoy your new look!

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BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Thomas

    SAFETY (get the family involved): #1 The best way to insure the power is cut off is to have the light/fan on and running. Flip the breaker and make sure the light goes out. Have a child or spouse watch the light and yelling “ON/OFF” or a cell call if too far away is 100% confirmation. If you need to run through several breakers to find the one you need, this is preferable to running back and forth. I agree that checking with a volt detector is definitely a good habit to use/teach. #2 (the picture above shows the hard/broken glass way) reducing the weight of the light/fan is very important when working off the ground. Disassembly of the old light before taking it down and also waiting to assemble the new one until fixed to the ceiling make the job much easier. Have someone work with you to hand parts and get the dropped screws. Small home projects can be bonding time with your spouse or sons / daughters.

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