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Fixing/replacing an outdoor light fixture?


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#1 of 16 Greg_S_H

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Posted January 10 2012 - 11:28 AM

I've got an outdoor light socket that didn't work even with bulbs proven to work. The last time I unscrewed the bulb, the socket's threads came up with the bulb. :rolleyes: I'm wondering if you can replace the threads, or do I need an entirely new fixture? Can I do this myself, or do I need an electrician? I've got some photos that will hopefully give some idea (though, I took them with a flash in the pitch dark): http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ It's the one on the left (not that it matters). At first, I thought maybe the little key at the base had something to do with removing the offending fixture, but I think you loosen that to swivel the light. I don't even know where you get these fixtures, but I assume Lowe's would have them.

#2 of 16 CRyan

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Posted January 10 2012 - 01:01 PM

I will ask first if you know what breaker works that fixture. If both lights are not working, then it will be initially difficult to figure it out. If you do not know, and you are not comfortable with electricity, I would suggest getting an electrician. Otherwise, this is a fairly simple replacement. If you are cost concious, you could try to take it apart and fix the sockets after cleaning them. You should be able to remove each one by completely removing the thumb screws. However, this WILL expose live wires and the breaker needs to be off before doing so. My personal opinion - Turn off the approptiate breaker, remove the entire fixture (the white conical base) and replace it with a new one that can be purchased at any home store. Simple remove the two philips head screws you see in the final picture posted above. My guess is that its nasty in there. No need to clean it out. Simply take off the fixture, undo the wire nuts, wire up the new fixture and screw it in place. Cheap enough... http://www.lowes.com...ollow&cId=PDIO1 http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

#3 of 16 Greg_S_H

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Posted January 10 2012 - 03:09 PM

I catalogued what the different stations of the breaker control when I first moved in, so that won't be a problem. Fortunately, only one of the sockets is not working. I've done a little work with wire nuts, so it sounds like this is not going to be too difficult at all. Thanks for the walk-through, as I really didn't even have an idea of what I'd see if I opened up that front plate. You're thinking if it was both sockets bad instead of one, I would probably have a bigger issue that just replacing the plate/light assembly might not fix? I'm hoping I'm real lucky, and the fact that the interior of the socket being in bad enough repair that the threads came loose is the problem and this will fix it right up. I bet it will. Thanks.

#4 of 16 Mike Frezon

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Posted January 10 2012 - 03:58 PM



Originally Posted by CRyan 


My personal opinion - Turn off the approptiate breaker, remove the entire fixture (the white conical base) and replace it with a new one that can be purchased at any home store. Simple remove the two philips head screws you see in the final picture posted above. My guess is that its nasty in there. No need to clean it out. Simply take off the fixture, undo the wire nuts, wire up the new fixture and screw it in place.

Cheap enough...
 


+1  You can do it Greg!

Emphasis on turning off power to the fixture!  Then, it's just a couple of screws and some wire nuts and you'll be good to go...with a subsequent lifetime of knowing that you are now "handy" and emboldened to take on other projects!  Posted Image



There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#5 of 16 Greg_S_H

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Posted January 10 2012 - 04:51 PM

I got a taste of that tonight. I heard a crash and my garbage disposer had fallen. Fortunately, it didn't take out a drain pipe or a water line. It was kind of hell reseating it.

#6 of 16 Jay H

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Posted January 10 2012 - 11:14 PM

Looks to be an easy job, I 've replaced my interior lights in my kitchen and bathroom when I did and I've replaced ballasts on flourescent tubes before. I actually used an exterior fixture in my kitchen cause I couldn't find one that I liked that was cheap. I found replacing lights fairly simply, the hardest part is the mechanical aspects of trying to hold the light up to the ceiling and put the screws in by yourself. The electrical part is easy and since you know the breaker the controls the light you should be safe as well. Jay
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#7 of 16 Mike Frezon

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Posted January 11 2012 - 02:59 AM



Originally Posted by Jay H 

 the hardest part is the mechanical aspects of trying to hold the light up to the ceiling and put the screws in by yourself. The electrical part is easy and since you know the breaker the controls the light you should be safe as well.
 


Ain't that the truth!  Another good tip is to be sure your ladder will bring you up to the same height as the fixture (easier outside than in--usually).  This way you are not working with your hands over your head.  That gets old quickly.


And grow two other arms/hands.  It will definitely help!

I've got a number of very old (brass) pull chain light fixtures in my 100-year old home and my kids and wife (although they vociferously deny it) pull too hard on the chains and will unseat the chain from inside the fixture.  This means I need to unscrew the fuse (no circuit breakers for me!) and then spend several minutes trying to do some very precise work re-clamping the chain connectors before my arms go limp from being over my head for extended periods of time.  I compare it to working on plumbing underneath a sink.  It's a pain in the neck and back and arms....  Posted Image


Oh.  and some of those pull-chain light fixtures are inside walk-in closets.  So, there aren't any windows or light sources further adding to the "degree of difficulty."  Posted Image


I get really grumpy when they sheepishly come up to me with the chain in their hands...



There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#8 of 16 Jay H

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Posted January 11 2012 - 04:27 AM

Oh.  and some of those pull-chain light fixtures are inside walk-in closets.  So, there aren't any windows or light sources further adding to the "degree of difficulty."  :laugh:

Ah, this is where being a hiker comes in handy. Get one of those cheap Energizer light headlamps that you can wear around your head. In that way you will have a light source and hands free. I use my Black Diamond which is way overkill for stuff for everything from automotive work to household stuff.. You can generally find those energizer ones in supermarkets for $20 or less I think. Jay
You are the crispy noodle in the vegetarian salad of life

#9 of 16 Mike Frezon

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Posted January 11 2012 - 06:02 AM

I could see where that would be an improvement over trying to rest three different flashlights on various piles or hanging clothes so that some of the light might hopefully hit the area I need to see!  Posted Image


Thanks, Jay!  And then I can always go on the Amazing Race.  Those contestants seem to use those things all the time. 


There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#10 of 16 Jay H

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Posted January 12 2012 - 12:45 AM

:P:D Yes it would! i think it is a required prerequisite for The Amazing Race. What is funny is that sometimes after a late hike, I find myself wearing my headlamp home, going grocery shopping, getting dinner. I have to remember that I'm still wearing the thing... Jay
You are the crispy noodle in the vegetarian salad of life

#11 of 16 Greg_S_H

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Posted January 12 2012 - 09:47 AM

There are a bunch of switches on my circuit breaker that don't seem to do anything. Am I missing something, or do they make a standard size breaker and just use as much of it as they need? Edit: Mike, I just saw your Father of the Bride link. I would have finished reading it, but I think I got something in my eye. Very nice writeup.

#12 of 16 Mike Frezon

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Posted January 12 2012 - 12:18 PM



Originally Posted by Greg_S_H 

There are a bunch of switches on my circuit breaker that don't seem to do anything. Am I missing something, or do they make a standard size breaker and just use as much of it as they need?
 


Yup.


Edit: Mike, I just saw your Father of the Bride link. I would have finished reading it, but I think I got something in my eye. Very nice writeup.


Thanks, Greg.  I've always had a real interest in music from Disney films, TV shows & theme parks.  In fact, I was first introduced to the HTF via the only other forum on which I have ever been active--MagicMusic.net--having to do with Disney music!


Oh.  And we had people on my son-in-law's family (complete strangers to me) in tears during that dance...


There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#13 of 16 CRyan

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Posted January 12 2012 - 03:12 PM

I'm sorry I didnt reply sooner. Sounds like you are good to go. But to answer your question. My concern if both lights had been not working was that you would not know what breaker you were dealing with before opening up the fixture. What I usually do is turn on the light that I am replacing and then go turn off the breaker. If the light goes off, I KNOW I have the right breaker off before taking off the fixture. If both lights had been out or not working, you would not be able to do that final "safety check."

#14 of 16 Greg_S_H

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Posted January 12 2012 - 03:35 PM

Oh.  And we had people on my son-in-law's family (complete strangers to me) in tears during that dance...

They could feel that ol' Frezon magic in the air! :cool:

I'm sorry I didnt reply sooner. Sounds like you are good to go. But to answer your question. My concern if both lights had been not working was that you would not know what breaker you were dealing with before opening up the fixture. What I usually do is turn on the light that I am replacing and then go turn off the breaker. If the light goes off, I KNOW I have the right breaker off before taking off the fixture. If both lights had been out or not working, you would not be able to do that final "safety check."

I'm lucky in that these are one of a series of landscape lights that are controlled by a single switch, so I'd be able to tell. I can relate this story now. At my old place, I wasn't entirely sure what breaker controlled what room, and my stories were recording in the other room when I wanted to replace the innards of a ceiling fan that had a broken chain, so I just left the power on and the fan off and went ahead and changed it. I was a little nervous grabbing the bare wire, but it wasn't hot. Light fixed, no trips to the hospital, and my stories were safely recorded! Yeah, but I won't do that again.

#15 of 16 Jay H

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Posted January 13 2012 - 12:31 AM

There are a bunch of switches on my circuit breaker that don't seem to do anything. Am I missing something, or do they make a standard size breaker and just use as much of it as they need? Edit: Mike, I just saw your Father of the Bride link. I would have finished reading it, but I think I got something in my eye. Very nice writeup.

I believe the outside box itself (usually with the cover) is a standard size that fits X amount of breakers, then you will just buy the individual breakers and install them as needed. I can't say I've never installed a breaker box, I've rewired existing ones though.. You should be able to trace the wires going to each individual breaker though and see which ones are used. If the house has been rewired or things removed, you might find unused breakers. I.e. my house when I had it had an above-ground pool so the previous owners had a 20amp circuit dedicated to the filter. When I moved in the pool was removed and I rewired that 20amp breaker to 2 outlets that I used for outside yardwork. Jay
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#16 of 16 Greg_S_H

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Posted April 02 2012 - 02:29 PM

The original issue is long since resolved, but now I have a new one. There's a two-plug outlet in my back yard that didn't seem to be working, until I thought of the switch in the living room. With the switch on, the outlets work. Cool, good place for a landscape light controller. BUT, the switch also turns on the back floods. Do not want. So, my options are: a) put in some dead bulbs and forget the floods; b) install a switch for the floods. A is easy, but I hate killing lights even if I rarely ever use them. How easy is it to install a switch? The power to the floods is external, running down the wall, inside a protective tubing, so I can get to the wires. Don't really relish the idea of having an outdoor switch, but it's alright. If I went with option A, do they make some kind of dummy that you can screw into a socket so you keep water out? It doesn't even have to look like a bulb--just some socket cover. But, I probably will eventually go with a switch.




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