Changing fluorescent light tube is quick, inexpensive fix

Q: As I was changing the fluorescent light tube in my ceiling fixture, I rotated the bulb to get it out and I heard a “snap” and saw things falling from the fixture. I cringed and waited for the pain. When I opened my eyes and realized I wasn’t hurt, I noticed that the end clips of the fixture (where the pins of the fluorescent tube go) were broken. Should I replace the fixture or can it be repaired?

A: It can definitely be repaired. I’m sure you were waiting for the blood to start flowing from breaking a fluorescent tube. Generally, electrical jobs and loud noises don’t go together.

You will want to turn off the electricity to the fixture before you start tinkering with it.

With the fluorescent tubes removed, unscrew the cover plate that houses the ballast and wiring. Usually, one side of the cover plate will screw in and the other just slides out.

At the ends of the fixture are the sockets. The sockets are about 2 inches long and jut out from the bottom the fixture. Electricity flows from the ballasts to the sockets, which in turn provide power to the fluorescent tubes.

The sockets are connected to a small plate at each end. Remove these plates (some screw in and some just snap in). The socket will slide out of this metal plate.

At this point, the socket will be dangling from the fixture.

Some sockets will have quick-connect features whereby the wiring is held in place by an internal clamping mechanism. Others will have wires running out of them to be connected to the ballast with wire nuts.

If your sockets are the quick-connect type, just pull out the wires from the old socket and push them into the holes of the new one. Likewise for the sockets that use wire nuts, just untwist the wire nuts holding the old socket to the ballast wires and twist on the new socket’s wires.

Slide the sockets back into the plate and attach the plate back into the housing. Reinstall the cover plate and grab the fluorescent tubes.

The tube will have two pins that enter the socket vertically. Align the pins with the openings in the sockets, push the pins in, and rotate the tube one-quarter turn. Replace the diffuser lens, flip on the light switch, and you should hear the quiet hum of white light.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions may be sent by email to handymanoflasvegas@msn.com. Or, mail to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, No. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. His web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.

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