I was talking to my cousin who lives in Australia the other day when she told me that she loves her new apartment, but absolutely hates all the light fixtures throughout the place. She wants to change them all. I asked her if she was going to do this by herself and she told me she had no idea how. So of course, I gave her some tips being that hubby and I have dealt with wanting to spruce up our place, both having things done professionally and doing it the DIY way. The steps aren’t complicated by any means, but there are some things you need to know before diving and replacing things that go zap.
Step #1. Make sure you know where your breaker is located and what each switch is for
It’s important to know where the breaker is inside your home. Not just for swapping out light fixtures, but in the case of a power outage, or a blown breaker. Locate the panel in your house or apartment and spend some time figuring out what each switch handles. In older apartments, the fridge, stove and dining room lights could be located on one breaker. Knowing what each breaker controls gives you the information you need to shut off the right one before working on removing any light fixture you wish to replace.
Step #2. Hire An Electrician or Electrical Service Company if You Don’t Know What You Are Doing.
If you don’t know what you are doing, like my cousin, then hiring yourself a professional is the way to go. In her case, I suggested someone like Gordon Powers – Electrical Solutions. A professional can install whatever you need, providing you with quality workmanship along with guaranteed safety that the job is done right. No matter where you live, look in your local listings to find someone who is certified, qualified and even take the time to read some reviews from other customers before choosing a company to help with your electrical needs.
Tip: If you are renting an apartment or home make sure you are allowed to hire a certified electrician before doing anything. Permission in writing is also a good thing to protect yourself.
Step #3. Know the Maximum Wattage the Fixture Can Use.
Some fixtures use bulbs that are 60, 100 or 150 in wattage. It’s important to know the wattage limit for your light fixture. Using bulbs above the limit can lead to serious damage. It is also important to know what type of bulb is used: halogen, fluorescent, LED or incandescent are just a few.
Step #4. How Much Does The Fixture Weigh?
It’s important to note how much your old light fixture weighs and make sure the new one either matches or is lighter. If you don’t, you will then have to replace the junction box (electric box) that connects the fixture (grounding it) so it can handle the new heavier weight of the fixture you are putting in. The last thing you want is your brand new ceiling fan spinning off becuase it was too heavy.
Tip: All ceiling boxes are required to support at least 50 pounds (NEC 314.27(A)), so you can assume the box will be able to support a simple light fixture. Boxes that are designed to support ceiling fans must be labeled as such, and must have a label listing the weight it can support if over 35
Step #5. Take The Measurements of the Canopy or Backplates for Each Fixture
Canopies are decorative plates mounted to the ceiling such as the backdrop of a ceiling fan or light. Backplates are the ones we use on our walls outside our bathrooms, inside our kitchens and bedrooms. Each of these needs to be the same size if you are changing them. Otherwise, you will have canopies and back plates that not only don’t match but won’t fit. So make sure you measure the hole or plate area before purchasing anything.
Swapping out light fixtures can brighten up and improve any home or apartment. Understanding what to do, what you need and how to do it is an important part of the process. So make sure you follow these steps and choose your decorative fixtures and how to put them in accordingly, and keep your home happy and safe.