How to Change a Fluorescent Tube

Written by chyrene pendleton
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How to Change a Fluorescent Tube
Fluorescent tubes are in ceiling fixtures or under counters. (Fluorescent overhead lamp in office image by Alexey Kuznetsov from

Energy-efficient fluorescent lights contain small amounts of mercury. You must handle fluorescent lights carefully when changing them to avoid mercury exposure from breakage. Most fluorescent tubes come in lengths of 1 to 4 feet and 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter and fit on a ceiling or under a counter. Changing a fluorescent tube requires few or no tools.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Straight-slotted screwdriver
  • Step ladder (optional)

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  1. 1

    Turn off the electricity in the area.

  2. 2

    Allow the fluorescent tube to cool off completely to avoid burns.

  3. 3

    Loosen three screws or fasteners by hand or by using a screwdriver if the fluorescent tube fixture has a ceramic or glass reflector surrounding it.

  4. 4

    Grab the tube near one of the ends using your thumb and two fingers. Turn the tube a half turn in either direction and lift it out. Place the old tube carefully aside for disposal.

  5. 5

    Pick up the replacement fluorescent tube of the exact size and wattage.

  6. 6

    Locate the two pins on either end of the tube, and then align the pins with the slots of the light fixture on both ends.

  7. 7

    Slide the fluorescent tube up until you get the second pin into the slot. Turn the tube a quarter turn until it fits securely. Turn on the electricity.

Tips and warnings

  • Replace your fluorescent tube if you notice it becoming dim or beginning to blink.
  • Ventilate the room by opening all windows and doors if you break a fluorescent tube. Make certain you get pregnant women and young children out of the area until you have finished cleaning up. Although a natural substance, mercury causes major health problems -- it destroys nervous system tissues, mainly neurons, and is especially harmful to pregnant women and young children.

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