Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Idiot's Guide: How to Change a Light Fixture

So while we were quite literally watching paint dry, we had a chance to get to a few other tasks - most importantly replacing the ceiling fan with the custom light fixture! You have no idea how excited I was to see it in place since it had been a work in progress since October. (more details about the fixture to come in tomorrows post).

But today's post is purely practical. It the Idiots guide to changing a Light Fixture complete with a step by step photo guide.

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Hello Mr. Ceiling Fan. Prepare to meet your maker. Bwahahhahahahahhahhah.

I'm sure many of you already know how to do this, not to mention there are loads of other sites that provide these tutorials but personally I never felt comfortable until my brother showed me how in person.

Feel free to skip this post if the know how is old news but if the idea of fiddling with electrical - even in this most superficial way - has scared you off before, keep reading. I promise, even an idiot can do it. (In this case its my brother who is playing the part of idiot while I snap the photos but he is really quite a smart guy.) Important stuff is in bold, optional steps are italized.

Step 1: Switch off the breaker to the fixture. I like to be on the safe side so I shut down the whole apartment. (My brother doesn't mind nearly getting electrocuted a little bit so he believes its not entirely necessary to do anything but shut the switch off but let's not listen to him. Mmm, okay?)

Step 2: Find the screwdriver you swear you just saw. Have your brother accuse you of moving it to another room. Defend self with righteous proclamation that he was the last to use it. Find said screwdriver was sitting right in front of both of you the entire time.

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Step 3: Unscrew the plate that covers the do-dads in the ceiling (yes, that is the technical term!), exposing the junction box.

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Step 4: Disconnect the existing fixture by breaking the wire connections. Remove tape, unscrew caps and untwist wires. Unscrew whatever is holding your light fixture in place. There, your old fixture should now be free.

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Your ceiling should look something like this. You might also be experiencing arm fatigue right about now from feelslikeforeverbutonlytakes5minutes of using your arms over your head. Curse self for lack of upper body strength, take a break to watch Hoarders. Continue to step 5.

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Step 5: Our junction box didn't have a ground wire already in it so we made one using some green covered wire and screwed it into the bit of the junction box labeled "GR". See, easy peasy. (If your junction box has a ground wire already, skip this step.)

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Step 6: Using the plastic covering color as your guide, reconnect the wires. Black with black, white with white, green with green. First twist the little copper wires together, then screw the plastic caps on. We also threw a layer of black tape on there but that isn't entirely necessary.

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Step 7: Screw fixture to junction box using the mounting hardware that comes with the fixture. Wonder why previous owners painted around the fixture rather than the entire ceiling.
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Step 8: Turn the breaker back on, flip switch, marvel at your out your dazzling handywork!

So there you have it. If you've been putting off a change because you just weren't up to risking electrocution, fear no more!

Back with more details on the fixture and the rest of the shore kitchen makeover later this week.