Upgrading the lighting in your home is not a complex or difficult endeavor; in fact, most of the time it’s incredibly simple. So, you certainly don’t have to suffer with the stock offerings that came with your humble palace. If your home is a bit older, then perhaps the light fixtures might also be showing some wear — or worse yet they look dated to you. And we’re not talking about the good kind of dated, either. We’re talking that 70’s Brady Bunch look that gives you the shudders every time you see it. Don’t despair, all you need to change a basic light fixture is about 30 minutes and a few basic tools.
But before you go charging off to buy lighting, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Your best bet is going to be to scout lighting and get a good idea of what’s out there — and what you’d like to install — then go home and see if that type of fixture will work for your application.
Read on past the jump for more information and lots of photos.
Things you need to look at are issues such as: will the new fixture fit in the space available? Or will the new fixture expose holes in the wall that’ll require filling if you go with a different style? The easiest way to tell is to remove the older fixture to see what you are up against.
A very important note: Make sure to flip the breaker off to disconnect power to the fixture you are working on before you do anything. Also, be sure to test to make sure you have the right breaker by turning the light on and then cutting the power.
Now that the power is off you can pull off the old fixture and see what’s under there. If your house was built after the 60s, you’ll see something that looks like a box with some holes around the edges and a few wires in it. Sometimes they’re square and sometimes they’re round. In either case, it won’t be an issue.
If the light is a single pole switch — only operated from one location — like this one then there will be three wires in the box: a ground (which is normally green or copper), a white wire, and a black wire. If it’s a dual pole switch there will be more wires, but the ones you will be interested in are the ones that you disconnected from the old fixture.
For this project we’re installing a three bulb wall vanity, so the first and most important part to go on is the backplate. This plate will position and hold the weight of the fixture to the wall. Practically all commercially available fixtures these days will have a universal mount pattern like this one that mates right up to the standard box located in the wall or ceiling. It’s handy and works well so you may as well use it. There may also be holes near the ends to mount further hardware to keep the unit in place.
Fit the wires through the center hole, then place the plate in position and fasten it down with a few fasteners for a solid, snug fit. It’s up to you to decide how much securing is necessary but remember: better safe than sorry.
Once you’re happy with the placement it’s time to move on to wiring, which is relatively straight forward on a project like this one. The ground goes to the little green screw located somewhere on or near the center ring. Simply loop it around and tighten it down securely.
Read on to page 2 for the rest of the install.
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