Servicing a fluorescent light
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Photo 1: Pull the bulb
Unplug the light and twist the bulb 90 degrees with both
hands. Pull one end straight down to free it from the socket
and then lower the entire bulb.
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Photo 2: Remove the end cover
Screw locations will
vary, but double-bulb
units typically have a
screw on each side,
and four-bulb units
typically have an additional
screw on the
top center edge.
Remove all screws
and pull off the cover.
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Photo 3: Remove the socket
Slide out the socket to expose the
wiring. It's very important to keep the
wiring order straight, so cut one side
of the old socket wiring loose at a time. Strip
the wiring back 1/2 in., then press the bare
wire ends into the terminal slots on the new
socket. The terminal slot works like a barbed
fishhook; once a wire is pushed in, it cannot be
pulled out. Repeat the process for the remaining
wires and then replace the socket.
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Push the stripped wire into the new terminal, being careful to insert the correct wire into each terminal.
Fluorescent light fixtures are durable
and virtually maintenance free, but
occasionally service and repair are
required. If you’ve got a fluorescent fixture
that doesn’t light up, flickers on and off, or
won’t hold a bulb, we’ll show you how to
troubleshoot the problem. Replacement parts
are easy to install and can be found at home
centers and hardware stores.
If the fixture won’t light up at all, it may not
be getting power. Check the circuit breaker or
fuse box, and reset or replace the necessary
Fluorescent light bulbs typically last many
years, but when one flickers on and off, or the
end turns light gray to black in color, it needs
to be replaced. Photo 1 shows a bad bulb and
how to replace it. Replace the bulb with the
same size bulb.
Another common problem is cracked sockets,
caused by bumps from other objects or
stress from removing a bulb. Shut down power
to the light, remove the bulbs and then open
up the fixture to gain access to the broken
socket (Photo 2). There will be two or four
wires coming into the socket. Keep the wiring
straight by swapping wires from one side of the
socket at a time as shown in Photo 3.
If the fixture still doesn’t work, then the ballast
is probably shot. The ballast boosts the
incoming voltage to start the tubes, and then
regulates the current to provide continuous
light. Ballast replacement can cost as much as a
new fixture, so buying a new fixture
may be a better investment.
turn off the
circuit at the