How to Change a Fluorescent Tube

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

Turn off the electricity in the area.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


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.

Things You'll Need

  • Straight-slotted screwdriver
  • Step ladder (optional)
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About the Author

Chyrene Pendleton has been a business owner and newsletter editor for more than seven years. She is a freelance writer with over 25 years experience and teaches a variety of topics, including alternative health, hair care and metaphysics. Pendleton is a certified television show producer, radio talk-show host and producer, and a computer programmer with a bachelor's degree in computer science.