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How to Replace a Light Socket for a Light Fixture


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Replace a Socket in a Light Fixture: A Step by Step Process for Replacing a Light Socket.

Light Fixture Socket Replacement

Electrical Question: How do I repair a broken light socket?

This electrical wring question came from: Dale, from Athens, Alabama.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Dale.

Replacing a Light Fixture Socket

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a fiberglass or non-aluminum step ladder and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the access to the light fixtures.
Precaution: Identify the light circuit, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with the light socket wiring.
Notice: Changing or modifying the original fixture design may void the UL approval and affect the warranty of the light fixture. Changes in light bulb type must not produce more heat which could damage light fixture components or the area of the light fixture installation. The replacement light socket should be the exact matching light socket with the same specifications.

How Replace a Light Socket

Light fixtures typically create high levels of heat which may cause the socket material to break down over time which could lead to a broken socket when the light bulb needs to be replaced.

Step by Step Procedure for Replacing a Light Socket

  1. TURN OFF THE LIGHT CIRCUIT
    • It is important to positively identify and turn OFF the circuit which provides power to the light fixture before proceeding with any work on the electrical components. It is best to place a notice that work is being performed on the circuit so the circuit is not turned back ON until all work is completed.
  2. ACCESS TO THE LIGHT SOCKET
    • The light fixture components must be carefully removed to allow access to the area of the light socket mounting assembly and electrical wiring.
  3. REMOVING AND REPLACING A DAMAGED LIGHT SOCKET
    • Most light fixture lamp sockets may be replaced if the correct replacement socket can be found. Most hardware stores or light fixture outlet stores carry a wide range of replacement light sockets.
    • The replacement socket must be the same as the original having the same voltage and watt allowance and mounting method. Some light sockets have one or two screws placed through the base of the socket which are used to attach it to a mounting bracket.
    • Once the correct replacement socket has been purchased the socket should be installed in exactly the same position as the original light socket.
  4. WIRING A STANDARD A-BASE LIGHT SOCKET
    • The wiring of a 120 volt light fixture typically has two wires that are Black for the Power and White for the Neutral.
      • The Black wire sends power to the tip or end of the base of light bulb and the connection occurs at the very bottom center portion of the light socket.
      • The White wire is the path back to the circuit and makes contact with the side of the light bulb base which has the threads on the base of the light bulb and the threaded sides of the light socket.
    • These wires should be attached or connected correctly. If wire splice connectors are used then they must be rated to withstand the amount of heat that will be produced inside the light fixture assembly.
  5. REASSEMBLE THE LIGHT FIXTURE
    • Once all the work is completed the parts and components of the light fixture must be carefully replaced and the specified light bulbs should be replaced.
  6. RESTORE CIRCUIT POWER AND TEST
    • When the reassembly is completed the the light fixture circuit may be turned back ON and the light fixture may be turned on for testing.
    • If for some reason the light fixture is not functioning correctly then the process should be repeated from the beginning and close attention should be given to all of the assembly components and wiring connections.
  7. IMPORTANT
    • Every light fixture has a limit to the size of the light bulb. Make sure to use light bulbs that are not larger than allowed by the light fixture.
    • The allowed light bulb type and watts should be indicated on a label inside the light fixture housing or shown on the outside of the light socket.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “How to Replace a Light Socket for a Light Fixture”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Calvin,
    The 18 gauge wire that is prewired to the new LED Retrofit Kit is safe as the connection to your circuit wiring even though the wire size may be smaller. With most light fixtures you will find that the size of the lead wires are typically adjusted for the electrical requirements of the light fixture.
    Dave

  2. Calvin Lim says:

    Hi,

    I’m planning to change all my kitchen recessed lighting from Triple Tube 4-Pin Light Bulb to LED Retrofit Kit 120W 5/6-Inch. I will be taking out the 4 wires (2 blue/2 red) including the ballast and replacing with 2 wires (black/white). My question is can I use 18 AWG 600v wire (2 feet of wire) for each recessed light to connect from the LED plug to junction box on the recessed light housing? I’ve noticed most wires used for the light sockets are 18 AWG in the Halo recessed light housings.

    Calvin