How To Fix Outdoor Light Problems

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How do I fix an outdoor light that is not working right? How to Repair Outdoor Light Problems, Typical Light Fixture Problems to Look for.

Outdoor Light Fixtures

Electrical Question: How do I fix an outdoor light that is not working right?

  • I have an outdoor light that is not working right.
  • First I wired a single pole switch to the light box and this is correct because I verified the wiring using another light fixture and it works just fine.
  • I replaced the light with new fixture and it will not work.
  • I know that the new light fixture works hard wired to an outlet, so the fixture works.
  • As you can tell, I am frustrated and would appreciate some assistance.

Any help would be great!
Additional Comments: I love what I see here, I have been looking for an hour for advise, this is where I stopped.

Dave’s Reply: Thanks for your electric wiring question Mike.
Background: Mike, a Handyman from Princeton, Minnesota.

Repair Outdoor Light Fixture Problems

Application: Troubleshooting a Problem with an Outside Light Fixture Circuit.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and electrical troubleshooting skills.
Precaution: Identify the lighting circuit, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before performing any wiring or inspections.

The Most Common Problems with Outdoor Light Fixtures and How to Fix Them

  • Typical Light Fixture Problems to Look For:
    • Physically inspect the light fixture for damage and replace the light fixture if necessary.
    • Double check all the wiring connections and make sure wiring splices are made correctly using the right connector.
    • Make sure the light bulb(s) are good and the correct for the specific light fixture.
    • Check the controlling switch to make sure it is good, replace if necessary.
    • Locate the circuit breaker which provides power to the light switch and make sure it is not tripped.
      • If the circuit is tripped locate the problem within the circuit wiring.
      • Make the Correction:  Repair the damaged wire and clear the fault.
      • Reset the circuit breaker.
      • Test the light fixture.
  • Light Bulbs
    • Sometimes the wire filament inside the light bulb may be broken but when it is in certain positions it will make contact and light up, therefore a new bulb may be required.
    • Make sure the light bulb is the right size and type. For example: most CFL lamps do not work well in outdoor lights, however incandescent or halogen lamps generally work best. Be sure to check the light fixture specifications for specific lamp replacement information.
  • Electrical Wiring for Light Fixtures


  • Installing Motion Detector and Security Light Fixtures

  • Installing motion detector lighting fixtures provide security and energy savings and they can easily replace an existing exterior wall fixture.

More about Wiring Outdoor Light Fixtures

Light Switch Wiring

Light Switch Wiring

Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1

  • Fully explained pictures and wiring diagrams
  • Wiring light switches describing the most common switches starting with photo diagram 1


  • Home Outdoor Lighting
    • There are many types and styles of outdoor lighting. Consider these different types of light fixtures when planning your outdoor home lighting project.

More about Types Of Outdoor Garden Lighting

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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.


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