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Overhead Lighting Checklist

Run through this list when replacing defective lighting.

1. Replace the light bulb with an identical one that you have tested in a working socket.

2. Check your breaker box for blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers.

3. Determine if the wall switch is to blame using a continuity tester:
a. Turn off the power at your breaker box. Test to make sure the power is off by using a circuit tester.
b. Remove the switch from the switch box without disconnecting any wires. Attach the continuity tester's clip end to the common terminal screw.
c. Touch the probe to the other terminal screw(s). Flip the switch on and off each time. The tester should light only when the switch is in the ON position. If not, replace the switch.

4. Test the socket for problems:
a. Turn off the power at your breaker box. Remove globe or shade and the light bulb. Remove the screws holding the fixture base in place. Gently pull the fixture base out of the electrical box, careful not to disconnect the wires.
b. Test to make sure the power is off by using a circuit tester: touch one probe to the green grounding screw. One by one, insert the other probe into each plastic screw-on connector (the plastic caps joining the wires). You want the probe to make contact with the bare wire ends hidden inside each of the plastic caps. If the circuit tester's light comes on at any point, return to your breaker box and try again. Test again until you get it right.
c. Test the socket with a continuity tester to make sure current is passing though it without interference: attach the clip of the continuity tester to the bare end of the black wire or to the screw that anchors it. Touch the tester's probe to the metal tab in the bottom of the socket. If the tester light doesn't glow, the socket is faulty and will need replacement (see Replacing a Socket).

5. If you find any loose wires, tighten them gently and see if that fixes the problem.

Hammer Have a question about your lights? Visit our Electrical Systems forum to find the answers you need