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Replace a Light Socket

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A photo of a light socket.

Light Socket

Timothy Thiele

You walk into a room and turned on a light switch only to hear a pop? You look at the light fixture and one of the bulbs isn't working. Under further investigation, you see that one of the sockets has outlived it's usefulness. The socket is discolored and one of its wires is burnt to a crisp.

This just happens to be your favorite light fixture that has been in the family for years and now you're going to have to throw it away. Not so fast! It's time to perform light socket CPR! Go quickly now, get your electrical tools, and get to work saving that light fixture! Replacing the socket is really pretty easy.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Less Than 15 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. In order to replace a light socket you'll need a replacement socket of the same wattage and style. You'll also be needing a few choice tools to perform the work.

    Tools Needed:

    1. Screwdrivers
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    2. Wire Strippers
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    3. Tester
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    4. Pliers
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    5. Ladder
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  2. Turn Off the Power

    Before beginning any electrical project, turn off the power to the circuit that you'll be working on in the electrical breaker or fuse panel. Turn off the breaker or unscrew the fuse panel in the electrical panel. Look at the panel schedule to find the circuit that you're working on. If it's not posted, you'll have to shut them off one at a time to find the circuit. Never assume that the circuit is off. Always check it with a tester and practice electrical safety procedures when working on anything electrical. You can prevent electrical shock by remembering these two words: Safety First!

  3. Remove the Globe

    In order to work on the light fixture, you'll first have to remove the globe. The globe is either held up by internal clips, screws on the outer ring of the fixture, or a retainer nut on the bottom of the globe. Hold the globe in one hand while loosening the screw with the other. Set the globe aside for now.

  4. Remove the Fixture

    In order to remove the fixture from its fixture mounting bracket, unscrew the two bracket screws that are located towards the center of the light fixture. You can possibly just loosen these screws instead of removing them for easier installation later. Twist the fixture until the screw heads are positioned in the larger hole of the screw slots in the fixture. This will allow the fixture screw to pass through the holes.

  5. Disconnect the Wiring

    To disconnect the wiring from the fixture, twist the wire nuts counterclockwise and remove them from the wire. Separate the wires and disconnect the ground wire, if there is one. Take the fixture down and place it on your work bench or table to finish the project. Pull the black and wire wires from the bad socket through the hole in the fixture so that the socket can be removed.

  6. Remove the Bulb and Socket

    Remove the light bulb from the socket and get a Phillips screw driver to remove the socket. Look inside the socket and locate the Phillips screw. Use the screwdriver to loosen the screw while holding the retaining nut that is located on the back side of the socket bracket. Once the screw is removed, carefully tip the socket into your other hand and retain the socket screw. Discard the light socket and grab its replacement.

  7. Replace the Socket and Bulb

    Now that the old socket is removed, use the screw and nut you just removed and install the new socket. Tighten the screw snugly, but don't tighten too much as the socket is fragile and could break. Insert the wires back into the fixture hole so that the wires are on the back side of the fixture and are ready to wire. Now, install the appropriate bulb. The maximum wattage is posted on the side of the socket and should not be exceeded!

  8. Wire the Fixture

    Hold the fixture back up to the ceiling box and connect the wires together using wire nuts. Black wires tie together under one wire nut and white wires tie together under another. If there's a ground wire, connect it with a wire nut or to the light bracket.

  9. Connect the Fixture to the Mounting Bracket

    Align the larger mounting slot holes on the fixture with the mounting bracket screws. Push the screws through the holes and twist the fixture until the screws are over the smaller part of the slot. This will prevent the fixture from falling. Now, tighten the screws snugly. Be sure that there are no wires protruding from the fixture base. You don't want to pinch an electrical wire.

  10. Clean and Install the Fixture Globe

    While the fixture globe is down, it is a good time to clean it before putting it back on the light fixture. Now, put the globe back on by evenly tightening the screws on the side, replacing the retaining nut, or pressing it up into the clips provided.

  11. Turn On the Power and Test

    The final step is to turn the power on in your electrical panel. Either turn the breaker on or install the fuse. Once on, go to the switch controlling the fixture and turn it on. If the fixture light up, you've successfully performed CRP to you cherished light fixture and have saved its life!

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