A recessed light bulb can look a little daunting to change as it’s hidden deep within the ceiling, but with a little guidance we have you covered.
Your recessed light most likely houses one of three types of bulb, each with their own method or removal. We show you how for the common types of recessed ceiling lights or downlights.
Follow this step by step guide to removing an LED bulb or any other bulb type. The images demonstrate the removal of a push in LED bulb.
Locate the recessed light fixture that needs a bulb replacement and ensure the light is turned off before proceeding.
If you just switch off the power at the wall the bulb can be removed but there is still a small risk the lighting circuit could short out and trip the circuit breaker, so turn both off if you can.
Depending on the type of recessed light fixture, you may need to remove the trim or cover to access the bulb. Carefully pry the trim or cover away from the ceiling using a flat-head screwdriver or your fingers.
Some recessed lights have a magnetic front plate, so you may need to prise it away from the body of the light to drop it down. It will have the bulb still attached to the bulb holder and power cable.
Once the trim is removed, you need to identify the type of bulb within so you can judge how it is best removed, not all bulbs are the same.
If it needs to be unscrewed, pulled straight out or twisted first before pulling.
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If it is an A shape bulb or PAR LED bulb it is unscrewed.
Carefully unscrew the old bulb by turning it counterclockwise and if the bulb is hot, wait for it to cool down before attempting to remove it.
If it has a flat glass front it could be an MR16 base bulb that needs pulling directly out. You cannot tell from the front of the light if you are unsure.
Try prising the bulb out by gripping the edges of it with your fingers and rock it side to side whilst pulling gently outwards. Do this slowly or the bulb could drop on the floor accidently and smash.
Some recessed lights retain the bulb to the front cover with a spring clip which will need pulling away to allow the bulb to be free from the trim.
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If it has a flat front it could be a GU10 bulb that will need an anticlockwise twist first before pulling out.
You will need to get some grip so gently push a little inwards so your fingers can twist the bulb anticlosckwise until it stops. Then use your fingers around the edges and gently pull outwards, rocking side to side if it needs pursuasion.
When selecting a new bulb, consider factors such as the appropriate wattage, base type, shape, color temperature, and energy efficiency. Check the fixture’s specifications or the packaging of the old bulb for guidance.
Hold the new bulb by its base and gently screw it into the socket in a clockwise direction until it’s secure. Be careful not to overtighten the bulb, as this can cause damage to the socket or the bulb itself.
Once the new bulb is installed, carefully reattach the trim or cover by pressing it back into place until it’s flush with the ceiling.
Turn the circuit breaker on and light switch to ensure that the new bulb is functioning properly.
If you encounter a bulb that’s difficult to remove, try the following techniques:
Wearing rubber gloves can provide extra grip when unscrewing a stuck bulb. Alternatively, wrap a wide rubber band around the bulb to increase friction and help you grip it more securely. Gently but firmly twist the bulb counterclockwise until it comes loose.
If the bulb is still difficult to remove, apply a small amount of lubricant, such as WD-40, to the base of the bulb where it meets the socket. Allow the lubricant to work its way into the connection for a few minutes before attempting to unscrew the bulb again.
A can of compressed air can be used to cool down a hot bulb and potentially loosen any heat-related expansion that may have caused it to become stuck. Hold the can a few inches away from the bulb and spray short bursts of air towards the base. Once the bulb has cooled down, try unscrewing it again.
Try wrapping several layers of duct tape around your fingers with the sticky side outwards facing the base of the bulb and pull or twist. This should create enough friction to loosen it from its socket.
If the bulb is broken use long nosed pliers to grip what remains of the bulb ensuring you grip the metal base not just the remains of the broken glass. Twist counterclockwise and dispose of the sharp bulb carefully.
Always remember to exercise caution when dealing with stuck or stubborn bulbs. If you’re unable to remove the bulb safely or if the socket appears damaged, consider consulting a professional electrician for assistance.
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