Don’t live with that light fixture you hate.

Don’t live with that light fixture you hate.

Ugly giant chandelier Lamp shades
Huge, ugly, out of scale, and expensive to replace bulbs, this fixture that came with the house was WRONG for us.

You don’t have to live with a light fixture you hate

After 2 years of living in our new house I finally was fed up with the giant ugly chandelier that hung in the dining room. We dithered around making a decision on replacing it because we couldn’t agree on how we are going to use this space and which style to pick. After six months of indecision I picked a Generic, Modern, inexpensive Light Fixture I found on amazon and installed it (this was marked down to $80 when I bought it – look for sale items, for sure). It isn’t hard. You can fix it. Don’t live with the eyesore.

Safety NOTE: If you don’t know how to test for live current or turn off the power then this is not the project for you. 

Tools you will need:

    • a Ladder you can safely reach the fixture

Turn off the power and get that old light down

Diagram of removing slip ring
This slip ring holds the canopy to the ceiling. Remove the lampshades and any lose parts to reduce weight and give you room to work. 

Once you have turned off the power at the breaker box – you must do this, it’s not enough to turn off the power at the switch – CAUTION. Then you can unscrew the slip ring that holds the canopy to the ceiling.

Diagram for tying a light fixture to a box
Light fixtures are heavy. Use this trick to secure the fixture before you attempt to take it down.

Using some string, thread it under the support for the electrical box. I used some sticky tape to make the end of the string a little stiff to more easily push it up and over the support bar. Then tie securely to the light fixture. This will allow you to unscrew the light fixture without having to support its weight – which is pretty tricky and dangerous to do.

Pics of light fixture
Two things here: 1) the blue arrow shows the ground wire for the light fixture. 2) my voltage tester shows GREEN to PROVE the power is off before I start cutting or disconnecting anything. You want to test the black ‘hot’ wire. But should check them all. You can also see how the string is supporting the light.

To keep things simple I cut the lamp wire (the gold colored one coming out of the light fixture) with a pair of pliers then I carefully lowered the light fixture to the ground. I packed it up in my car and took it to the Habitat for Humanity reStore with the extra parts in bags taped to it. I might have hated it, but that doesn’t mean someone else would.

Prep the box for the new light

Diagrams for removing hanging bracket
You can see how I cut the wire. I used an adjustable wrench to loosen the nut on the threaded nipple so I could remove it. Also, the green arrow shows the ground wire screw – they are usually green. Disconnect and remove these items.

The old bracket was not going to work for the new light fixture, so it had to be removed.

Remove old bracket and install the new one

more diagrams
On the new bracket you can see the ground screw where the ground from the house (the bare copper wire) and the ground from the light fixture (lower right) must be connected. The white wire is neutral and the black is hot.

 

 

Pics of light fixture bracket
Thread the wires through the center. Use any of the slots that fit into the box best. Make sure to connect both ground wires to the ground screw. Note the chrome studs that hold the new canopy in place.

Assemble new light fixture

Chances are your cheapo light fixture comes with only the most basic of directions that will probably only include a lot of warnings about safety. But lucky you, pretty much every single light fixture on the face of the earth follows the same pattern: a hollow tube that screws together with threaded nipples and nuts with a wire run through it – with some variations.

3 panel showing assembly of a light fixture
Don’t unwrap your fixture until after it’s hung to keep it clean. A shocking amount of stuff will fall out of your ceiling box. As you assemble the fixture run the wire up through the hollow tube.

This light fixture has plastic gaskets at each threaded nipple to protect the wires, but it makes threading the wire through more difficult. Once you have it assembled you should have a large amount of leftover wire, don’t cut it if you can avoid it – the next person working with the light will thank you if you leave the extra tucked up in the box and canopy. Also, with this light fixture it was easy to remove the glass diffuser it was held up with a series of nuts and gaskets. Removing it before installation saved weight and made it WAAAAAY easier to install – plus putting the light bulbs in later are also way easier from underneath.

Once everything is hung, turn your power back on, test to make sure everything is working and then clean up your tools. Pat yourself on the back.

two panel showing assembled lamp and installed lamp
You can see how 18-ish parts became a lamp that fit in a small-ish box. The two chrome nuts are what hold the canopy and the entire lamp to the ceiling. Note the plastic wrap left in place to protect the lamp during installation.
lit light hanging from the ceiling
Installed with light bulbs and frosted glass diffuser.

Fun post script – or terrifying footnote

When I installed the led bulbs it made my already installed dimmer switch hum loudly. Turns out the bulbs are not compatible with a dimmer so we bought some dimmable bulbs – and by we, I mean my husband, who picked some cheap off brand leds. Which normally I feel like, NBD. Until my husband shouted up stairs, “Something is burning. No really, something in the house is on FIRE.” And technically, there weren’t any open flames…

Burnt light bulb
Burnt cheapo LED bulb. We opted to install some Philips LED bulbs after this.

I’m genuinely glad we were home when the bulb failed – anyway. Buy high quality bulbs that don’t exceed the fixture’s recommendations.

Don’t live with a light fixture you hate or that hits 20% of the people in the house in the head. Change it. This cost me $80 for the light and 1 hour of work. You can do it. You can fix it yourself.

Pinterest page
Change that light you hate. Don’t live with it.

 

 

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2 Replies to “Don’t live with that light fixture you hate.”

  1. You make me feel as if I would not have to be afraid to try this myself. Sometimes things nag for ages and are remedied fairly easily. Am glad you shared this. Thanks

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