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Replacing a Bathroom Light Fixture

Light fixtures can improve the entire ambiance of a home, and are an asset in improving living space. However some fixtures, especially the recessed, metal canister kind and flushmount, can overheat and burn the socket wires, melting off the insulation and causing the socket to malfunction. This can be responsible for a single short, or it might short every fixture on the circuit. If all fixtures on a circuit have shorted, make sure the problem isn't with your switch (try using a continuity tester). If the switch works, it is time to replace your fixture!

A light fixture replacement is not a difficult process, but it does require some preliminary precautions. A careful, thorough job will have the lights working in no time.

  • First, turn off the power to the problem area. Do this at the breaker box; use a circuit tester to make sure that the power is off. (It is a good idea to wear insulating gloves while performing the replacement.)
  • Remove the socket: unscrew the clip holding the socket in place, and disconnect the wires. Find an identical replacement at your local hardware store.
  • Carefully remove the bulb and the cap nuts in the fixture. Loosen the fixture but do not remove it. Instead, push the canister up into the ceiling and set it aside, exposing the wire connection box. Again, test to make sure the power is off! Also, be sure to avoid touching any bare wires.
  • Disconnect the fixture from the wire connection box. (Generally, you're looking for an armored cable wire - like a large metal coil). Now it is safe to remove the fixture; remove it. If the wire leads from the wire box look worn or especially dirty, strip them with an insulated wire stripping tool. If necessary, cut back the amount of exposed wire to no more than 1 inch.
  • Attach the new fixture's mounting strap (you might need help for this part - also, if the fixture is heavy, try to install it in a ceiling stud for support).
  • Connect the fixture by connecting the black lead wire to the black circuit wire, and the white lead wire to the white circuit wire. Cap them with plastic connectors.
  • Attach the bathroom lighting fixture's base, then install the new socket. The black circuit wires connect to the brass terminal screws, and the white wires connect to the silver terminal screws.
  • Install the fixture (pretty much reversing the process of removing the old fixture); make sure it's completely assembled before turning the power back on.
  • Enjoy the new lighting fixture!

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