How to Change a Light Bulb

Everyone agrees that changing a light bulb is one of the simplest things to do.

or maybe not always! In fact, if you search on the web you will find a number of incidents where someone was killed while changing a light bulb. So don’t take this task lightly or you will light up!

My video here pretty much sums it up. There are many things that can go wrong when you change a light bulb, worst of them being sticking your finger in the light fixture to pick something up while it is still live.

The danger of getting shocked is not only dying by electricity, but also in some cases when one has to climb up somewhere insecure to change the bulb, they can fall and get hurt. So:

    • First of all make sure the fixture is not live. Even if you flip the switch off, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the fixture is not live. When the house wiring is done right, the switch disconnects the live wire. But in some poor workmanship cases, they disconnect the neutral line to the fixture which means that the live power is still present and the electrical path can close through ones body to the ground where he or she is standing on. So if you have a tool to check for live electricity, use it to make sure the fixture is safe, or otherwise just open the breaker in your home’s fuse box to shut it down. In most cases the breakers are wired correctly!
    • The next issue that usually hurts me is when I touch the bulb when it is still too hot. Well, just be cautious and wait for it to cool down. It is not a life hazard, but it’s pretty annoying.
    • Of course there is always the possibility of the screw part (or base) getting stuck in the fixture. This would happen mostly to the bulbs used outside the house or in more humid rooms where the humidity can rust the screw base and make it stick inside the fixture. Now there are two things that can happen: the bulb breaks off the base, or the more dangerous one is that it doesn’t come off easily and due to too much pressure, it breaks in ones hand causing injury. The bulb is a very thin glass and will break easily. So if you have to put excessive pressure on a bulb, then use a thick glove to protect your hand.

  • Of course, don’t try to extract something inside the fixture with your hand, especially if you are not sure if it is live or not. The risk is also that something sharp in there may cut you. Use a tool.
  • Every fixture has some maximum power rating written on it nowadays. Don’t use a bulb that exceeds that rating, especially with a great margin. The risk is that the under rated fixture and wires can get too hot due to extra power and can melt and cause a short or fire.
  • I don’t think anyone will ever do this, but don’t take bulbs from a country to another with a different house voltage. Like I mentioned, a 100W bulb rated for a 110V country will consume 400W in a 220V country and will blow up. You may say, why 400W, the voltage is only double. But remember that assuming a fixed resistance for the bulb, a double voltage will also mean a double current, and power is voltage times current. For the same reason, a 100W from a 220V country will only be like 25W in a 110V country. In 110V countries, there are usually 220V line available for powering high power appliances like the cooking range or the washer/dryer. Don’t go crazy and use those to power a bulb.
  • One more thing is that, in general, when working on a high power electrical object, try to insulate yourself from ground so that if there is stray electricity somewhere, your body won’t close the path and cause a shock.

Enjoy your DIY job safely! Changing a Light Bulb