Replacing a Light Fixture

May 2, 2014

Items needed: new fixture, universal mounting plate, bulbs, wire nuts, and a helper. 

Don't forget to make sure there is no power going to the circuit!


Step 1: Remove light bulbs; unscrew beauty nuts (these hold the fixture in place). Now is the time you will need an extra pair of hands.


Step 2:  As you are pulling fixture away from wall, unscrew wire nuts. The fixture will have a black-to-black wire, a white-to-white wire and a green or bare copper wire to the same. Set fixture aside.


Step 3:  The new fixture will come with instructions. Follow them. Wire black to black, white to white, and green to green (or bare copper). Gently twist the ends of the wires together and secure them with a wire nut until it is tight and won’t turn anymore.


Step 4: Compare new mounting plate with the existing mounting plate which is attached to the outlet box. If necessary, purchase a universal mounting plate, which will accommodate any fixture. Depending on the new fixture it will mount from the body or canopy to the outlet box. Screw beauty nuts in place and you're done.


Replacing a wall outlet 


You will need: 

Outlet, switch or dimmer switch, flat-head and Phillips-head screwdriver, and wire nuts.

Don't forget to flip the circuit breaker and make sure no power is going to the switch.


Step 1: Remove your wall plate with a screwdriver; set aside.


Step 2: Remove the two screws that hold the outlet in place with a screwdriver. Pull outlet from the box. It's a good idea to take a close-up photo of the wires so you will remember where they go. Now look at the wires and determine if you will need a 15-amp or 20-amp replacement outlet. The amps should be marked on the plastic wire coating. The “hot” (black or red) wires will be connected to a gold screw. The “neutral” white wire will be connected to a silver screw. If there is a green or bare copper wire, this is your ground wire. You will disconnect it last. This is the typical set up for most outlets and switches.


Step 3:  Loosen screws to release wires. If you have a “back wire” set up – that is, the wires are not wrapped around the screws on the sides of the outlet – they are most likely inserted into holes in the rear. You can release those wires by inserting a flat-bladed screwdriver tip into a rectangular slot aside the holes where the wires go in. 


Step 4:  Installing is just as easy. Reattach the wires: black or red to gold screw, white to silver screw, ground wire to the green screw. Screw the outlet back to the electrical box and replace cover. Turn circuit breaker back on.


Installing a dimmer switch.


Follow steps 1, 2, & 3 for replacing a wall outlet. Don't forget to trip the circuit breaker.


The dimmer switch will have one black, one white and a ground wire (bare copper or wrapped in green).  


Step 4:  Connect the black to black, white to white, and green to green. Gently twist the ends of the wires together; secure them together with a wire nut until it is tight and won’t turn anymore.

Step 5:  Carefully push the wires back into the electrical box. Screw the new dimmer switch in place and attach cover plate.


Electricity is nothing to play with. Make sure you take every precaution, and if you are in doubt, hire a professional.

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