How to remove a fluorescent ceiling light fixture

Updated February 21, 2017

Changing the lighting design in your home could require you to remove an old fluorescent ceiling fixture. Removing an old florescent fixture or simply swapping it for a new style could change the look of a room. When you remove a fluorescent fixture, take care with the bulbs. They contain mercury, and you need to dispose of them properly. Most home-improvement stores have a florescent light disposal program. See if a store in your community has one.

Disconnect the electricity to the fluorescent ceiling fixture in your service panel. The service panel is the main fuse box or your main breaker box in your home.

Remove the light shade from the fixture. Depending on the style that you have, the shade could wrap around the fixture, or it could be a flat-panel shade that installs directly in the fixture. Remove a wraparound shade by grabbing it on one side and popping it away. Remove a flat-panel shade by pushing it up and tilting it out.

Remove the fluorescent light tubes. Most fluorescent tubes twist slightly left or right and release from their sockets. Circle line and U-bent fluorescent tubes install differently. The circle line tube is held in the fixture by metal tabs, and the socket plugs into the side of the tube. The ends of a U-bent tube go into the fixture sockets, and the tube is held to the fixture by metal tabs. Simply unplug the socket from the circle line tube, and pull the bulb from the metal tabs. Pull the U-bent fluorescent tube from the metal tabs, and pull the ends of the tube out of the sockets.

Remove the ballast cover from the centre of the fixture. Depending on the manufacturer of your fixture, the ballast cover secures to the fixture with screws or metal tabs inserted in slots in the fixture. Remove the screws or squeeze the ballast cover to release it from the tabs and remove it from the fixture.

Untwist the connectors holding the black, white and green wire from the fluorescent ballast to the black, white and bare copper ground wire from your house wiring. Remove the screws from the fluorescent fixture that mount the fixture directly to the ceiling. Take the fixture from the ceiling.

Replace the wire connectors to your house wiring. Wrap the wire connectors in electrical tape securing the connectors to the house wires. This caps off your wires until you are ready to install a new fixture. Reconnect electricity to the circuit in your service panel if the circuit supplies electricity to something other than the fluorescent fixture that you removed.


Fluorescent bulbs contain a trace of pressurised liquid mercury and argon gas. They require careful handling. The tubes can explode, shattering the glass if they are struck or dropped.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips or slotted screwdriver
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About the Author

Cecilia Harsch has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications. She has several years of experience in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and a background in group exercise instruction. Harsch received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004. She attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition.