How to Change a Light Bulb in a Ceiling Fixture

Written by steve sloane
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How to Change a Light Bulb in a Ceiling Fixture
(lighted lamp of ceiling image by JoLin from

Standing three or four steps off the ground on a ladder can be quite daunting for those with height problems, so it's a good rule of thumb to stand on the ladder at the necessary height and make sure you are comfortable before starting the job of replacing the light bulb. This job is easily and quickly done, but take care not to rush things such as ascending or descending the ladder while holding too many things.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 6-foot ladder
  • Light bulb
  • Screwdriver (flat blade or Phillips head)

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  1. 1

    Turn off power to the light fixture via the light switch. Place the ladder directly under the light fixture, making sure it is resting evenly on the floor. Without tools, ascend the ladder to make sure it is high enough and in the correct position to easily access the ceiling fixture. If needed, descend the ladder and move it to a more suitable position. Remember never to ascend to the highest rang (step) of the ladder, as this will possibly cause the ladder to wobble and cause endangerment.

  2. 2

    Study the fixture to determine whether a screwdriver (flat blade or Phillips head) is needed to remove screws from the fixture cover or possibly wing nuts that can be undone by hand. If necessary, descend the ladder for the screwdriver or other tool. Make sure your feet evenly support your weight on the ladder, then remove the fixture as much as possible using one hand while holding the stepladder with the other. Descend the ladder holding the fixture cover in one hand and holding the ladder with the other. Ascend the ladder again to unscrew (turning counterclockwise) the old light bulb.

  3. 3

    Screw in the new light bulb (clockwise) and replace the fixture cover. Before removing the ladder, turn on the light switch to make sure the new bulb is working. If so, the job is done. If not, try another new bulb as bulbs break easily.

Tips and warnings

  • Before starting the job, determine what wattage bulb (40, 60, 100, etc.) is required for the replacement.
  • With standard 8-foot ceilings, a 6-foot ladder will suffice to reach the ceiling fixture, but with higher ceilings a taller ladder may be required. If this is the case, check beforehand to make sure your ladder is long enough.
  • Remember that if the fixture has been on for some time, the old light bulb (if it still works) will be quite hot. If so, wait for the bulb to cool down before replacing it.

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