Do I Need an Electrician To Change a Light Fixture?

Do I need an electrician to change a light fixture

People love do-it-yourself (DIY) projects — and we don’t blame them. There is a sense of real pride and accomplishment that comes after using your own hands and learning new skills to complete a job. Why do you think we got into this business in the first place? We love the feeling of completing a job, and doing it well.

We love to hear about people who build their own decks or re-tile the backsplash in their kitchen. But when it comes to electrical projects, we always ask that people proceed with caution, especially if they are new to the world of electrical. Lots of people think that if they are good with a hammer and a drill, they should be fine to tackle electrical projects. Then they watch a video online and think they’re good to go.

Electrical projects definitely range in complexity, and if you are considering upgrading the electrical circuitry in your home, we definitely (definitely!) advise that you call an experienced electrician. But what about something as simple as a light fixture? Do you need an electrician to change a light fixture. 

Replacing or changing a light fixture is one of those DIY jobs that seems really simple. However, we have heard from clients over the years that this “easy” project became a Saturday afternoon of problems. We have certainly been called in before to fix some botched jobs.

So we thought we would provide some advice on things to be aware of if you are planning to change your own light fixture. This is by no means a manual on what to do or how to do it. Please ensure you are well informed and have the proper tools to embark on the job, and like we said, we hope you will proceed with caution.

While the instructions you have seen or read about might seem straightforward, there are a few curve balls we see come up again and again. Nothing that’s impossible to fix, but might mean an annoying extra trip to the hardware store in the middle of the job.

Mounting brackets that don’t fit

The brackets supplied with the light fixture might not work with your current light fixture makeup. Take a good look when you buy the fixture or before you get to work to see if you will need a replacement and get a couple of options ahead of time.

Long screws

It’s common that the mounting screws are too long to fix in the box, so you will need to cut them. A wire stripper with built-in bolt cutters is the best tool for the job.

Short wires

If the wires in the box are too short, it will be frustrating to make the connections. To prepare for this potential problem, stock up on a few “pigtails” (new pieces of wire) and learn how to install them before you begin.

Surprise shock

Before you start any electrical job, the first thing to do is turn off the breaker that controls the light’s circuit. But did you know that you can still get a shock? That’s because some junction boxes contain wiring from multiple circuits. So even though you’ve cut the power to the light fixture, there could still be live wires in the junction box. To ensure your safety, check all the wires in the box with a non-contact voltage detector before you set about disconnecting wires.

We hope this helps prepare you but if you feel unsure at all, call your friendly Vancouver electricians at BPM. There is no job too big or small for us.