Replace or Repair Your Older Light Fixtures
How to Fix Light Fixture Problems: Evaluating the Condition a Light Fixture, The Most Common Methods for Repairing a Light Fixture, Replacement Parts of Most Light Fixtures, Replacing a Light Socket, Rewiring a Light Fixture.© By: Dave Rongey
Guide to Light Fixture Parts and How to Fix Them
Electrical Question: I have a mushroom glass flush mount ceiling light fixture with 2 sockets, each rated for a maximum of 60watt incandescent light bulb.
- The light fixture was wired for a flush mount about 6 years ago.
- Power to the light fixture is controlled by a standard wall switch.
- Bulbs get replaced every few months when they burn out. About 6 weeks ago, a neighbor (not a licensed electrician) offered to replace the bulbs as a favor (my days on a ladder are numbered). When I said I had no bulbs, he said he did, so I agreed without making sure his light bulbs were 60w.
- When the room seemed too bright afterward, I asked him the wattage he’d used and he claimed not to know. (They turned out to be 100w each.) I told him I would have to ask, reluctantly, that he redo the job with 60w when I got them.
- Shortly thereafter–2 weeks, maybe–the light simply stopped working. It switched on and off, then would not switch on again later. Thinking the light bulbs had burned out too quickly because of the higher wattage, I asked the same neighbor to replace them for the (2) 60s I bought in the interim. He did, but the light still would not switch on. (Both sets of bulbs were good.) Assuming the problem was in the switch, he replaced the switch but he light still does not work.
- Now, a maintenance guy (licensed electrician) wants to replace the entire fixture with one he supplies. He says he can’t use the existing mushroom globe (with the band that secures it). This makes no sense to me. When I purchased the globe, the sockets had been installed.
Here are My Questions about this Light Fixture
- If the problem is in the sockets or the wiring to them (has to be), why does the entire assembly, including the globe, need to be replaced? Why not just replace the sockets or fix their connection to the wiring?
- This fixture worked fine for six years until the(2) 100watts were installed. Is it possible that the excess wattage overheated the sockets and caused the fixture to malfunction?
Thanks for your time and expertise. I hope this gives you enough info to answer my two questions.
Background: Anna, a Educator from Pittsfield, MA.
Additional Comments: So far, so good. No-frills design is uncluttered and user-friendly. Good job, Dave.
Thanks for your electrical question Anna.
How to Fix Light Fixture Problems
- Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate. This electrical repair project is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor or Certified Electrician.
- Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a non-aluminum ladder and Voltage Tester.
- Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and access to the light fixture(s).
- Precaution: Identify the light circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the light fixture wiring or replacing any fixture parts.
- Notice: Changing or modifying the original light 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.
Evaluating the Condition a Light Fixture
- Is it Best to Replace or Repair a Light Fixture
- Most hardware stores or wholesale electrical suppliers have a supply of replacement parts for light fixtures, the key is to get the right part so modifications are not needed for the light fixture.
- When repairing a light fixture it is important to maintain the original integrity of the the light fixture in order to maintain the original UL Approved Rating.
- The area for light fixture wiring area must ensure safety for the wire connections and a bond for the ground wire within the enclosure.
- The compartment for the lamps or light bulb(s) must safely contain heat and protect other elements within the general area.
The Most Common Methods for Repairing a Light Fixture
- Replacement Parts of Most Light Fixtures
- Fixture Covers or Lenses.
- Lamps and Light Bulbs.
- Light Sockets and mountings.
- Ballasts and Starters.
- Light fixture wire.
- Wiring connectors.
- Replacement Lamps or Light Bulbs
- The original design of the light fixture is approved for a specific type and size light bulb, so replacement lamps or bulbs must be have the same specifications.
- Improved technologies for better energy efficiency provide adaptable replacement lamps, however they must be approved for the type and size of the original light fixture, and the lamp which it will be replacing.
- IMPORTANT: Replacing light bulbs with a higher watt rating beyond the specifications of the light fixture may create high amounts of heat which may cause damage to the light fixture and be a fire hazard.
- Replacing a Light Socket
- The light socket or lamp socket should have the same mounting bracket and in some cases the socket may be unscrewed from the mounting bracket by using a small screw driver.
- Replacement light sockets must have the same voltage and watt rating, and the same type material as the original light socket.
- Porcelain type light sockets are best for light bulbs with a 60 watt rating or higher.
- Rewiring a Light Fixture
- When rewiring an older light fixture be sure to use approved wire that is rated for light fixtures.
- Replacement light fixture wire must have the correct voltage rating and insulation type to ensure that the wire does not overheat.
- The size of the wire gauge of the fixture wire is sized for the number of lamps that will be installed or the total combined watts of the light fixture.
- Special electrical wire may be required for light fixtures that produce high amounts of heat from the light bulbs.
More about Light Fixture Wiring
For more information about Light Switch Wiring
Light Switch Wiring
Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1
Fully explained pictures and wiring diagrams about wiring light switches describing the most common switches starting with photo diagram 1.
The following may also be helpful for you:
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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