Easy Fixes for Various Lighting Issues

September 18, 2015

Major issues with the electrical elements of your home require the help of a trained professional, but many minor lighting issues can be easily fixed. You won't be left in the dark with the below tips and tricks.

Easy Fixes for Various Lighting Issues

My fluorescent tube won’t light

Replace and dispose of it safely

If a light doesn't come on when you throw the switch, the tube's contacts may need cleaning, or the tube may need to be replaced. Switch off the electrical circuit supplying the light at your breaker panel. Safely set up a stepladder so that you can reach the tube without overstretching. Remove the cover over the fixture and pass it down carefully to a waiting helper.

  • Remove the tube. Most have two prongs at each end and need a quarter-turn to line up the prongs with the slots in the sockets. Lower the tube and lightly rub the prongs at both ends with some fine sandpaper; straighten them with a pair of pliers if they appear bent. Dust the tube with a lint-free cloth and replace it in the fitting.
  • If the tube still fails to light, you may need to replace it, or the problem may be with the starter — a small cylindrical component usually found beneath the tube or on the side of the fixture. It's simple to remove — just turn its body counterclockwise. Take both tube and starter to your electrical store and buy and fit exact replacements. If this doesn't restore the light, call an electrician to replace the fixture.

My lights flicker

Fit a new switch or transformer

Try checking and cleaning the bulb's connections or replacing the bulb. If this doesn't work, there may be a problem with the switch, especially if you can hear a buzzing or fizzing noise when the switch is on. You'll need to call an electrician to install a new switch mechanism.

If you use low-voltage bulbs in your ceiling fixtures, and you have replaced halogen bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs, you may observe flickering, or the new bulbs may not work at all. If so, call an electrician to replace your old transformer with an LED driver.

My chandelier is dusty

Clean it with cotton gloves

As dust settles on a chandelier, it dulls its light output and robs it of sparkle. Using a cloth to clean your chandelier can be an arduous job, so make life easier by buying a pair of white cotton gloves (available from home improvement stores).

Switch off the light and remove the bulbs. Put on both gloves and moisten one with some window cleaning liquid; wipe each crystal with this glove first, then dry with your other gloved hand.

A bulb has broken in the socket

Remove it safely with a potato

Bulbs can shatter when hit accidentally, or if exposed to moisture. When this happens, it can be hard to remove their sharp broken ends from the socket.

  • Ensure that the affected circuit is switched off at the breaker panel.
  • Cut a medium-size potato in half. Push the cut side firmly into the remains of the bulb and turn the potato to unscrew and free the bulb.
  • Clean the inside of the socket by rubbing it with fine-grade steel wool before inserting a new bulb.


Don't take any chances when working on a light fixture. Switch off the light at the wall and tape over the switch, and turn off the lighting circuit at the breaker panel.

Dispose of fluorescent tubes responsibly at your local recycling center — they contain harmful chemicals and should never be thrown away with domestic waste.

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