Changing Light Fixtures – What You Need an Electrician For

Researched & Written by Craig

Stuck wondering if that small job needs an electrician?

This article will explain which tasks will be safe for you to attempt on your own. It will also list some of the tasks that need to be done by a professional. 

Here is a list of some electrical tasks that you will need a qualified electrician to do: 

  • Fix a problem with your electricity
  • Repair or replace a circuit breaker
  • Replace your wiring
  • Install new circuits including dedicated circuits for high-voltage appliances

Are you curious to find out just why these jobs should be done by an electrician? Then check out some of the reasons below.

Changing Light Fixtures – What You Need an Electrician For

I get it, hiring an electrician to do jobs around the home is a load of hassle. It’s expensive. It’s also a pain to have to take time off of work to sit around for hours waiting for the electrician to turn up. And don’t get me started on how annoying it is to have to scrub the floor after the electrician has trapped their heavy work boots all over your nice carpet. 

So with all this in mind you may be wondering – why call an electrician? 

The answer is simple. Some jobs are simply not safe to be done by those of us whose electrical training doesn’t extend much past Youtube tutorials and wikiHows. Getting electrical work wrong is dangerous and could end up costing you more money in the long run. 

Let’s take a look at some of the jobs we mentioned earlier and see why they need a qualified electrician:

Fix a Problem With Your Electricity

Problems with your electricity come in many shapes and forms. 

Here are a few of them:

  • Rust and corrosion. This could be the first sign of damp around your electrics. Rust corrosion should be seen to immediately by an electrician. While waiting on one, you should stop using this power source. 
  • Tripped breakers. Do your breakers trip every time you plug in the hairdryer or click the kettle? Then it is best to call for outside help. There may be more than one problem with your electrics that needs to be sorted.
  • Electric shocks. Do you get electric shocks when you touch an electrical surface? Then you will need to call a professional. This could be a sign of a wiring problem
  • Flickering lights. This could flag that there is significant damage to your electrics or it may be a simple wiring concern. Whatever the outcome, it is better to get it solved with a certified electrician.

As a general rule of thumb, you should not attempt to fix any electrical problems on your own. If you have doubts about what you are doing, it is always safer to call a professional.

Repair or Replace a Circuit Breaker

Does your circuit breaker need repairing or replacing? Then it would be best for you to call an electrician for the job. 

There is a high volume of electrical currents running through a circuit breaker.  This alone is enough to strike this job straight off of the DIY list. The large number of connections makes it easy for someone without the proper training to make a mistake. One wrong connection could cause the box to overheat, trip, and could even start a fire

Replace Your Wiring

If you need to replace your wiring, the safest way to do so is to pick up the phone and call an electrician. 

Replacing wiring is a dangerous job. It is all too easy to make a mistake and cause an electrical overload. Overloads like this could easily spark a household fire. Most insurance companies will not cover the damage caused by homemade wiring and tampering.

Install New Circuits Including Dedicated Circuits for High-Voltage Appliances

You should call an electrician if you want to install new circuits in your home.

Even if you think you know what you’re doing, you may be unaware of the mandatory electrical and building codes. By not following them, you could unintentionally invalidate your insurance. That would leave you in a bit of a pickle should you damage anything or suffer injury when doing the work.

How to Change a Light Fixture

Some electrical jobs are best left in the hands of an electrician. But as for changing a light fixture – you could do that in your sleep! That’s right, you won’t have to spend a dime on call out charges with this simple DIY job. 

Is it your first time changing a light fixture? Then make sure you follow the steps listed below!

Lighting Unknown if IC Rated

Turn Off the Power

First things first, make sure you shut your power down. You should do this before you attempt any electrical work. Turn off the power at the circuit breakers. You should also turn off the wall switch that connects to the light fixture. 

Unscrew the Fixture

Start by removing any detachable parts from the fixture such as light bulbs. Then remove the cover that lies flush on the ceiling. Removing the light fixture’s cover will expose the wires. 

Remove the Wiring

With the cover out of the way, you should be able to see the following three wires:

  • One black 
  • One white
  • One green (or copper)

These wires need to be disconnected so that you can remove the old fixture. 

Before you remove them, make a note of how the wires connect to your fixture. Or, take a picture of the setup. This will make it easier for you to connect them correctly to your new fixture later on

To disconnect the wires, unscrew the caps on the wires. Then separate the fixture wiring from the ceiling wiring.

Remove the Old Light Fixture

Tip! – This step is better done in pairs. One person will unscrew the fixture and the other will hold onto it to make sure it doesn’t fall. Make sure you buddy up for this one! 

Once you have disconnected the wires, removing the light fixture should be straight-forward. There’s no universal rule of how many screws you will have to undo to remove the fixture. But there’s usually no more than two or three. 

Once you’ve got the fixture out of the ceiling, leap for joy – you’re already halfway to a job well done! But don’t stop there as here comes the most important part – getting the new light fixture installed. 

Swap the Plates

Your new light fixture will come with a new hardware plate. Replace the existing hardware plate with the new one. Attach the mounting bracket to your ceiling box and thread the wires through the new plate.

Connect the Wires

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to help you connect the wires. You can also use the notes you made or the picture you took of your previous wire connection during step 3. This will help you to connect the wires in the right way. 

Generally speaking, you should be connecting white wires to white and black to black. The green (or copper) wire should connect to a grounding screw or a dedicated copper wire coming from the electrical box. You should connect the wires by twisting the exposed ends together. 

Reconnect the Cover

Tip! This step is better done with two people. One to hold the light fixture in place and the other to adjust the screws. Make sure you phone a friend for this one! 

Adjust the length of the chain that you would like for your light fixture. Then shove the excess chain into the ceiling behind the cover. Fold the electrical wires into the cover too. Believe it or not, this part is usually the most fiddly of the whole process!

 Use the screws provided to fix the base to the mounting plate.

Replace the Bulbs

Put lightbulbs into the new fixture. Screw on any accessories that go with the fixture. 

Turn the Power Back On

Turn the electrics back on at the circuit breaker and then turn the fixture on at the wall switch. Do a happy dance under your newly installed light fixture. It’s finished!

Conclusion

Once you’ve caught the DIY bug, it’s hard to know when to apply the brakes. And it’s important to be careful when doing your own electrical work. I hope that this article has given you a better idea of the types of electrical jobs that should be tackled by a professional.

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Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Cheers,

Craig