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How to Fix Fluorescent Lights With No Starters

Fluorescent light fixtures have evolved over the last few years. The fixtures no longer require a separate starter to turn the fluorescent light bulbs or tubes on. When the fluorescent light fixture needs to be repaired, it is most often the socket or the ballast that need replacing. These components are available at big box hardware stores. You can fix a fluorescent light with a few basic tools in an hour.

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  1. Turn the power off to the fluorescent light fixture. Some fixtures can be unplugged from the wall outlet. For fixtures that are hard-wired, turn the circuit breaker off inside the home electrical panel.

  2. Remove the light fixture cover. Most fluorescent fixture covers snap on and off. Gently squeeze in on the sides of the cover to unsnap the cover from the fixture.

  3. Twist the fluorescent tubes to remove them from the socket. Inspect the tube ends for burns or dark discolouration. Replace discoloured fluorescent tubes with new tubes when reassembling the fixture.

  4. Use a Phillips-head screwdriver to remove the cover that secures the light fixture socket to the fixture. Pull the socket out of the fixture to access the wires. Use a piece of masking tape and a pencil to label the connection of each wire. Pull the wires off of the socket and take the socket with you to a hardware store to purchase a new one.

  5. Slide the wire leads from the fixture on to the terminals on the new socket. Insert the socket back into the fixture and press the socket in until it locks into place. Replace the socket cover and secure the cover with the retaining screws.

  6. Insert the fluorescent bulbs back into the fixture and replace the light fixture cover. Turn the power supply back on to the light fixture.

  7. Disconnect the power to the light fixture. Remove the light fixture cover and twist the fluorescent tubes out of the fixture.

  8. Remove the four screws that secure the ballast to the fixture with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Remove the plastic wire caps that connect the fixture wires to the ballast wires. If there are no wire caps, cut the wires with a pair of wire strippers. When cutting the wires, cut them close to the ballast so that you will have plenty of fixture wire to connect the new ballast.

  9. Take the old ballast with you to purchase a new ballast. Make sure to purchase a ballast with the same ratings as the defective unit. The ballast ratings are stamped on the top of the ballast.

  10. Strip a half inch of insulation from the ends of the ballast wires. Strip the insulation off of the ends of the fixture wires if you had to cut them. Match the wire colours from the ballast to the fixture and twist them together with plastic wire caps.

  11. Set the ballast into the top of the fixture and secure the ballast with the retaining screws. Install the fluorescent bulbs back into the fixture and reinstall the fixture cover. Turn the power back on to the fluorescent light fixture.

  12. Warning

    Always disconnect power before attempting repairs to electrical appliances.

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Things You'll Need

  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Replacement socket
  • Wire strippers
  • Replacement ballast

About the Author

Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.

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