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How to Remove the Cover for Fluorescent Lights

Updated February 21, 2017

Fluorescent light fixtures feature a light-diffusing cover. Covers fit into the fixture through clips and tabs. The shape of the fixture may also hold the cover in place. When a fluorescent light tube goes out, you may need to remove the cover to access the tube. Doing so doesn't require any special tools or expertise. Never remove the glass casing of the fluorescent tube itself -- inside is toxic mercury.

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  1. Set up a stool, chair or step ladder below the fluorescent light fixture in the ceiling and climb up on it to reach the light.

  2. Press inward on the clips or tabs holding the cover in place to release them from the fixture. Pull down on the cover. Wiggle the cover back and forth if it is stuck; one end may come off easier than another.

  3. Wrap your fingers under the edge of the light cover if there are no clips or tabs. Pull outward and down. A lip on the inside of the cover may hold it in place. Set the cover gently on the ground or a work table so that it does not get scratched.

  4. Tip

    Clean the fluorescent light cover on both sides while it is off the fixture. Covers collect dust and dead bugs that can diminish the brightness of the light. Wear a surgeon's mask if you have allergies or are sensitive to nasal irritation. A dirty cover may release dust when you remove it from the fixture. Have a friend hold steady the chair or ladder while you remove the cover if it is unsteady. Undo only one clip to let the cover hang in place by the other end if you only need to momentarily inspect the fluorescent light.


    If a fluorescent tube breaks when you remove the cover, open the windows of the room. Let the room air out for five to 10 minutes while you stand outside of the room. Clean up the bulb and place it in an outdoor dustbin.

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Things You'll Need

  • Stool, chair or step ladder

About the Author

Matt Scheer began writing professionally in 2005. His work has appeared in "The Daily Texan" and "The New York Tribune." Scheer holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in history, both from the University of Texas. He is also a certified Yoga teacher and Web designer.

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