Content of the material
- Before You Begin
- Need more help? Talk to a lighting installer near you
- Check the Electrical Box for Capacity and Strength
- Heavy Fixtures Require Strong Boxes
- Calculating Box Sizes
- Add a Ground Wire to a Metal Box
- Make Sure You Get the Polarity Right
- About Us
- No locking mechanism or thread
Before You Begin
Turn off the power to the ceiling light fixture first by turning off the light switch, then flipping off the appropriate circuit breaker in your home's breaker box. You cannot turn off the light switch only; this is dangerous. You must turn off the circuit breaker.
Turn the light on and off at the switch to confirm that it is not powered. If the light doesn't come on, you can proceed with the steps below.
Need more help? Talk to a lighting installer near you
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TWIST the glass counterclockwise and it unscrews (there are three metal bumps on the INSIDE that hold it when you screw it back.
Check the Electrical Box for Capacity and Strength
Heavy Fixtures Require Strong Boxes
If you choose a heavy light fixture (the one we bought weighed in at a hefty 25 lbs.), check your electrical box to make sure it will support the weight. The National Electrical Code (NEC) allows you to hang up to 50 lbs. from any electrical box that is threaded to accept No. 8-32 machine screws for attaching the crossbar (see “Mounting with Screws and Cap Nuts” and “Mounting with a Threaded Pipe” in Additional Information below). This includes almost every type of ceiling box.
For practical purposes, make sure your electrical box is securely fastened to solid framing before you hang a new light fixture from it. If your light fixture weighs more than 50 lbs., it has to be supported independent of the electrical box. An easy solution is to install a fan brace box (available from home centers and hardware stores) that’s designed to be installed without cutting any additional holes in your ceiling. Check the label to make sure the box is designed to support more than 35 lbs.
Most ceiling boxes are large enough: The NEC dictates how many wires and clamps you can safely put in an electrical box. Typical 1-1/2 to 2-in. deep octagonal or round ceiling boxes are quite large and overcrowding is rarely a problem. Even so, you should run through the calculations to be sure. See the section on “Calculating Box Sizes.” But if you encounter a round box that’s only 1/2 in. deep, replace it. Once again, the easiest way to install a new electrical box in an existing ceiling is to use a special fan brace and box made for retrofitting.
Calculating Box Sizes
To figure the minimum box size required by the National Electrical Code, add: 1 for each hot and neutral wire entering the box, 1 for all the ground wires combined, 1 for all the clamps combined, and 2 for each device (switch or receptacle, but usually not light fixtures) installed in the box. Multiply this figure by 2 for 14-gauge wire and 2.25 for 12-gauge wire to get the minimum box volume in cubic inches. Plastic boxes have the volume stamped inside.
Changing a regular lightbulb is child’s play. But, removing a screwless light fixture can seem like a puzzling task. But once you know which kind of light fixture you have, you should be able to dismantle it in next to no time. Following the steps mentioned above makes putting it back together just as easy.
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Add a Ground Wire to a Metal Box
Attach a ground wire to the metal box if it’s not already present (turn power off first). Wrap the end of a 6-in. length of bare copper wire around a No. 10-32 ground screw and drive it into the threaded hole in the bottom of the box. Wrap the wire at least three-quarters of the way around the screw in a clockwise direction. Tighten the screw to secure the ground wire.
Because most light fixtures are metal or have exposed metal parts, they need to have an equipment ground to be safe. First you have to make sure a grounding means is available (Photos 3 and 4).
If your house is wired with plastic-sheathed cable with a bare copper ground wire, you’re probably covered, but test it to be sure, using the same procedure we’re using to test the metal box. Once you’ve determined that a ground exists, it’s simply a matter of making sure that all the metal parts—electrical box, fixture-mounting strap and light fixture—are securely connected to the ground (Photos 5 and 8). If your crossbar doesn’t have a threaded hole for a ground screw, connect a ground wire to it with a special grounding clip.
Make Sure You Get the Polarity Right
The two lamp cord wires on many hanging light fixtures are hard to tell apart. However, it’s critical to correctly identify the neutral wire and connect it to the neutral wire(s) in the box. Connecting it to the hot will energize the threaded bulb socket and create a potential shock hazard. See Photo 8 for clues to identifying the neutral fixture wire.
Hi there – we’re Heather and Matt, the folks behind Little Upgrades. Life gets so busy, that there’s not much time left for home improvement projects. So, we decided to focus on the “little upgrades” we can make, that will have the biggest impact on the place we call home. We started this blog to record the lessons and tricks we learn along the way. Welcome to the site!
No locking mechanism or thread
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