Installing Flush-mounted Lights


Replacing a ceiling fixture is simple. The old fixture's hardware often can be reused, and the new fixture usually comes with necessary hardware too.

Compare the wattage of the new fixture with the old one to be sure it provides the amount of light you want. Choose a fixture with a canopy large enough to cover any imperfections in the ceiling or use a medallion.

Wires in a ceiling box may contain cracked or brittle insulation due to overheating. Repair these before installing a new fixture. Ground the new fixture if possible. If it is being installed in a metal box, connect the fixture ground lead to the box and to the house ground wire. Check local building codes.


About 30 minutes to remove a fixture and install a replacement, as long as there are no problems with the hardware

Screwdriver, strippers, side cutters, voltage tester, ladder

Stripping wire, splicing stranded wire to solid wire

Spread a drop cloth on the floor below; set up a stable, nonconductive ladder

Materials Replacement fixture, wire nuts (the ones that come with the fixture may be too small), electrician's tape

Step 1

Shut off power to the circuit. Open the fixture. Remove the nut or screws holding the fixture to the box and pull the fixture down. Remove the wire nuts and check for power in the box. Pull the leads off the house wires and remove the fixture.

Step 2

If the existing mounting hardware does not fit the new fixture or if it doesn't have a grounding screw, remove it and attach a new strap to the box.

Step 3

Support a heavy fixture with a wire coat hanger while you work. Connect the ground wire. Splice the white lead to white wire and black to black. Wrap the wire nuts with electrician's tape. The insulation may be in your way, but don't remove it; it's a safety feature.

Step 4

Fold the wires up into the box. Start one mounting screw, then the other, then tighten them. If the fixture has keyhole-shape screw holes, attach the screws to the box; slip the fixture over the large holes. Rotate the canopy so the screws fit into the smaller slots and tighten the screws.

What If the Fixture Has a Center Mounting Hole? Step 1

Some fixtures mount with a nipple (short threaded pipe) and a nut in the center rather than two screws. Install a strap and screw in a nipple. If the nipple that comes with the fixture is too short or too long, purchase another one.

What If the Fixture Has a Center Mounting Hole? Step 2

After wiring the fixture, slide the canopy up so the nipple pokes down through the center hole. Screw on and tighten the mounting nut.

Step 5

The setscrews that hold the globe may already be in the base or may have to be installed. Push the globe to raise the lip above all the setscrews, then hand-tighten all the setscrews evenly.

What If the New Fixture's Canopy Doesn't Cover the Old Hole?

If the new canopy is not large enough to cover holes or unpainted portions of the ceiling or if you simply want to add a decorative touch, purchase a medallion. Hold it against the ceiling while you wire the fixture. Before tightening the canopy see that the medallion is centered.

Comments (2)
januargern wrote:

What does it mean, "check for power in the box"? We've already shut the circuit.

8/26/2010 10:27:42 AM Report Abuse
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