How to Install an Overhead Light Fixture

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON: In the late 1800s, the town of Monument Beach, Massachusetts, was President Grover Cleveland’s summer White House.  And on Sunday mornings, he could be found in a chapel just a short walk from the Cape Cod Canal.  But while President Cleveland is now a chapter in American history, the chapel is now home to the McClung family.

PAM MCCLUNG: Hi, Ron.

RON HAZELTON: Hi, Pam.  How are you?

PAM MCCLUNG: Good.  How are you?

RON HAZELTON: Very good.  Nice to meet you.

PAM MCCLUNG: It’s good to meet you.

RON HAZELTON: How long have you lived here?

PAM MCCLUNG: About two months.

RON HAZELTON: Two months?

PAM MCCLUNG: Yes.

RON HAZELTON: I think the house is a little older than that, though, right?

PAM MCCLUNG: Yes, it is.

RON HAZELTON: Can you illuminate me as to the project for the day?

PAM MCCLUNG: I sure can.  Come to the dining room.  Ron, this is the light that I want to replace.

RON HAZELTON: Ah, so this’ll be your first electrical job?

PAM MCCLUNG: Yes, it will be.

RON HAZELTON: OK, OK, I’ll give you a hand with it.  Now, this room looks like you’ve been doing some work in here already.  You’ve got some border up here and some - OK, and miscut - this wallpaper down here’s a little short.

PAM MCCLUNG: Actually, I’m going to put a chair rail on there.

RON HAZELTON: Oh, OK.  (LAUGHTER) Alright.  Well, I can see why you want to put a new fixture in here, though, because you’re sort of pulling the room together.  This would add a nice touch.  Let’s start by taking the furniture out and then we’ll go ahead and take the old one down.

PAM MCCLUNG: OK, great.

RON HAZELTON: OK?

PAM MCCLUNG: Thank you.

RON HAZELTON: This is a fiberglass ladder right here.  Wood would also be OK, but avoid metal ladders when you’re working on electricity.

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: Secondly, we’ve got to make sure that the power is off up here before we start working.  Now, you might think we could just walk over here to the switch and throw it off.  Indeed, the light will go out, but it’s still possible to have electricity up there.  So, I want to go to your circuit breaker or your fuse box and turn the power off there, at the source.  OK?

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: Can you show me where that is?

PAM MCCLUNG: Sure.  It’s downstairs.  Well, here it is.

RON HAZELTON: OK, well this is a new circuit breaker panel.  These are like switches that would shut off electricity if there was a problem.  What I want you to do is to start up here at the top and start flicking these to the off position, and then back on, like this.

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: And when you get to the one that controls the light, the light will go out.  I’ll signal, I’ll knock on the floor.

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: OK?

PAM MCCLUNG: Yep.

RON HAZELTON: (KNOCKING) OK, Pam.  Good.  (KNOCKING) Leave it off.  OK, Pam, start by taking the globe off.  There are some finger nuts there.  You see them, right around the rim?  Now, Pam, take this tester and put it up in the socket, like that.  OK.  Now, if there had been power up there, we’d have gotten something like this.  To take the fixture down, grab the tube with your left hand.  OK, then reach up above with your right hand - that little ring right there.  Right, unscrew it.  May have to wiggle it a little bit to get it loose.  Is it turning?  Yes, keep wiggling the shaft, the tube there doesn’t want to go.  It’ll eventually loosen up.  There you go.  Keep going till that cone drops down.  Excellent.

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: Excellent.  Let it come all the way down.  OK, take the tester again, Pam.  I want you to touch that to all the wires - the end of it - all the wires up there.  Just go ahead and move it around, move it around.  Alright, once again, confirming that there’s no current up there.  OK?  Now, most light fixtures are connected with two wires.  Here’s one right here, and here’s one right over here.  OK?  So, first of all, let’s disconnect this wire nut.  Just unscrew it.

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: OK.  The wires are kind of twisted together.  And untwist them, just pull it apart.  I’ll do this one over here.  Pull the wire apart, yeah.  There you go.  There we go.  OK, now we’re disconnected.  Now, this particular fixture is just held up here on a- with a threaded rod, which we’ll just turn like this, and the whole- there we go.  So that’s the end of our old fixture.  OK?  Again, take your wire nut and just temporarily, just  place it back on the ends there.  Pull out those two screws that hold that strap or bracket in place.  You see them?

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: They attach it to the box, right.

PAM MCCLUNG: These?

RON HAZELTON: Yep.

PAM MCCLUNG: There we go.

RON HAZELTON: Excellent.  I’ve replaced the old mounting strap with a new one that was packaged with the new fixture.  I’ll also attach a new copper ground wire to the mounting strap.  Good.  OK, Pam, why don’t you bring the new fixture over?  We’re going to start to wire this up.  I’ll do the first couple of things here, and then I’ll turn it back over to you.  OK?

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: Let’s thread the wires through this trim plate right here, and then also through this threaded nipple.  Then, we hook them up here, take the ends of these wires, and push them through the hole in that bracket.  Next, we want to screw this threaded nipple into the hole in the center of the plate or mounting bracket here, just like that.  Here we go.  Now, it’s time to really make our connections here.  We’ll connect the electrical supply wires on the new fixture to the wires coming from the ceiling box by twisting them together and then screwing on insulated wire nuts.  Wire nuts come in different sizes, indicated by their color.  The orange size is what we need for this job.  Green wire nuts are used for ground wires.  Pam secures the trim plate to the ceiling using a decorative screw eye that attaches to the threaded nipple in the mounting strap.  Then, she hooks an open chain link into the eye, attaches the rest of the chain to the open link, and voila - the new fixture is up.

PAM MCCLUNG: Got it.

RON HAZELTON: OK.  There we go.  Time for the finishing touches.  First of all...

(MUSIC)

RON HAZELTON: Well, it’s time to test out our work here, just in case - OK.  A little supplementary light.  So why don’t you go over here and flip on the switch and see what...

PAM MCCLUNG: OK.

RON HAZELTON: ...we’ve got here.  OK!  Oh, I like that.  I like the fixture very, very much.

PAM MCCLUNG: Beautiful.

RON HAZELTON: It’s a nice choice for this room

PAM MCCLUNG: Oh, thank you.

RON HAZELTON: And here’s to your first successful electrical wiring job.

Update an Overhead Light Fixture in a Simple Installation to Return the Character of the Room to 100 Years Past

Install a new overhead light fixture that complements your home's décor--at least in character if not in actual vintage because your house has over 100 years of history to its past.  Replacing the fixture is not time consuming, and the right lighting will help to restore the look and feel of a particular period and its ambience.

Switch off Power before Beginning the Light Fixture Installation
Step 1

Switch off Power before Beginning the Light Fixture Installation

Use a non-metal ladder such as wood or fiberglass when working on overhead electrical items. Turn the power to the light fixture/room off at the circuit breaker, and leave it off until the installation is complete.

Detach Light Fixture and Test to Ensure Power is Gone
Step 2

Detach Light Fixture and Test to Ensure Power is Gone

Remove heavy globes before detaching the old fixture and carrying it down the ladder. Test the socket with an electrical tester to ensure the power is off. The tester will glow and buzz if the current is still flowing.

Remove the Retaining Ring and Expose Light Fixture Wires
Step 3

Remove the Retaining Ring and Expose Light Fixture Wires

Unscrew the retaining ring between the shaft of the light fixture and the base that fits against the ceiling. The base should drop down and expose the wires and connectors. Test each wire with the electrical tester.

Disconnect Wire Nuts and the Light Fixture's Ceiling Mount
Step 4

Disconnect Wire Nuts and the Light Fixture's Ceiling Mount

Unthread the wire nuts and detach whatever holds the light fixture to the ceiling mount. In this case, it is a threaded rod. Replace the wire nuts temporarily on the wire ends protruding from the power box in the ceiling.

Install the Mounting Bracket for the New Light Fixture
Step 5

Install the Mounting Bracket for the New Light Fixture

Remove screws from the old mounting strap and replace it with the new mounting bracket packaged with the light fixture. We also added a new copper grounding wire to the mounting strap on the grounded electrical box.

Thread the Light Fixture Wires and Ceiling-Mount It
Step 6

Thread the Light Fixture Wires and Ceiling-Mount It

Thread the new fixture wires through the trim plate and through the threaded brass nipple provided. Push the new wires through the holes in the mounting bracket and screw the threaded nipple into the hole in the center of the bracket.

Connect Light Fixture Wires to Wires in the Electrical Box
Step 7

Connect Light Fixture Wires to Wires in the Electrical Box

Connect the light fixture wires to the wires in the ceiling, twisting them together and then screwing on the orange insulated wire nuts. Wire nuts come in different color-coded sizes. Green wire nuts are used for grounding wires.

Install Light Fixture on Mounting Bracket
Step 8

Install Light Fixture on Mounting Bracket

Connect the trim plate to the ceiling with a screw eye that attaches to the threaded nipple in the mounting bracket. Hook an open chain link into the eye, and attach the rest of the chain to the open link.

Secure Light Fixture Globes with Finger Nuts
Step 9

Secure Light Fixture Globes with Finger Nuts

Add light fixture globes, securing them with finger nuts provided. Read packaging to confirm the correct wattage light bulbs and install them. Restore the power to the circuit at the breaker box. Flip the light switch and see the light.