How to Remove a Light Fixture

In this guide we’ll be covering how to remove a light fixture. This can seem like a a daunting project for those that have never done it. The reality of it is that removing a Light Fixture is not a difficult project if you have the proper tools and follow all safety guidelines. Keep in mind these instructions can be used for any ceiling or wall mounted lighting fixture. Ceiling fans are a completely different type of lighting fixture installation and I will be doing a tutorial on that procedure a little later on down the road.

Here’s a general tools list that will help with your installation, like I mentioned above this tool list will be the same for indoor or outdoor fixtures as well as wall or ceiling hung.

Tools You’ll Need to Remove a Light Fixture

1. A voltage meter
2. A pair of pliers
3. A flat head and Phillips head screwdriver
4. Wire Cutters
5. Wire Strippers

Make sure you have all your tools before starting this project. As with any other project, if you have everything ahead of time it will make the project go much smoother.

How to Remove a Light Fixture

Here’s the lighting fixture we’ll be using for this how-to. It’s an old brass chandelier that is very dated but is still available at Home Depot for about $39. The fixture doesn’t match the decor of this home so it has to go. You should start this project by turning off the circuit breaker for this lighting circuit. After shutting off the breaker try turning the light on and off and make sure nothing happens.


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This is the canopy. All of the wiring is hiding under here as well as the crossbar that holds the fixture to the electrical box. If you plan on placing the new chandelier to the same height as the old one then now is the time to measure from the ceiling to the bottom of the existing chandelier. You’ll use this dimension in the new lighting fixture installation.


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The canopy is easily removed by backing off the nut shown in the picture below. Once you’ve backed this nut all the way down let it go down the chain. Sometimes the canopy will be stuck to the ceiling and will have to be tapped with the back end of a screwdriver to break it loose.


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Once the canopy is out of the way you can reach into the electrical box and pull the wiring down. Use care here and pay close attention to what you see. On some of the very old wiring out there the insulation (rubber coating) on the wire will want to crumble. You’ll need to fix this later with liquid electrical tape. Once you’ve pulled the wiring down, separate each set of colored wires. In a typical installation you’ll see a set of black, white, and bare or green wires. Separate them so they are not touching like in the picture below. Go ahead and pull the wire nuts off now.


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I like to be extra careful before I touch anything so I always check the wires for power before touching them. Your Voltage meter should be set to AC volts and if it has a range setting then set it at 200. On some meters there are 3 holes for the probes to go in. The black probe always goes to “common” and the red will go in the hole labeled V or Voltage. Once you’re sure there is no power to the wiring by touching the probes to the black and white sets of wires then go ahead and untwist the pairs.


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The next step is to remove the fixture and crossbar from the electrical box. As you’re backing out the screws holding the crossbar in place you should support the weight of the fixture. Once both screws are backed all the way out, both the fixture and crossbar will fall away from the ceiling together.


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Here’s a picture of the electrical box with just the house wiring left. We are now ready to install the new chandelier. Keep in mind that most plastic ceiling boxes have a weight limit of about 25 pounds. If your new chandelier is heaver than that then replace the electrical box with a ceiling fan rated or metal box.


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How to Remove a Light Fixture separator

-**- Go To Step 2, How to Install a Light Fixture -**-

How to Remove a Light Fixture separator

I hope you enjoyed this article on How to Remove a Light Fixture from the Outdoor Lighting team!

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