Electrical work is complicated, dangerous and according to the UK law, you could get fined, or lose your house insurance if you perform a task without having the proper license. But, according to the Part P Building Regulations, there are certain small tasks a homeowner can do without needing a professional electrician (which we listed for you in this article). In this article, the Fantastic Services team will explain the easier electrical task you can do yourself – how to change a lightbulb.
Don’t let the smallness of the task fool you. It is possible to hurt yourself while performing it. So, follow this handy guide if:
You’re interested in the different types of light bulbs;
Want to change a standard light bulb by yourself;
Want to change a fluorescent tube by yourself;
You wish to dispose of old light bulbs properly.
Types of light bulbs
There are а lots of different types of light bulbs in the world. They vary by size, shape, wattage, and even colour. We won’t touch all of them in this post, we’ll only list the most commonly used.
Incandescent. These are the most commonly used light bulbs in the UK and the world. They range between 40 and 110 watts. Such a light bulb can last up to a year. The light is usually warm. Depending on the wattage, the bulb can have a yellowish to white glow. You can also find coloured glass bulb options. Incandescent light bulbs can be used for all kinds of lighting including room lamps and flashlights.
Halogen. Halogen light bulbs are very similar to incandescent light bulbs, with the difference being in their lifespan. Generally, halogen bulbs have a longer life. They use halogen gas in a system called the halogen cycle which eliminates tungsten evaporation and prevents it from sticking to the glass. Halogen light bulbs produce white light similar to the daylight around noon, so they are often used for offices, cabinets and study rooms.
LED. LED or Light Emitting Diodes are one of the most energy-efficient lighting options. They are cool to the touch even when lighted. The LED light bulbs use less electricity than other options, contain no mercury, and don’t emit UV or infrared rays. They can last up to 10 years.
CFL. CFL, or Compact Fluorescents, are another type of energy-efficient light bulbs. They are more affordable than LED and last up to 10 years. However, CFL contains mercury, which is dangerous if broken. Another downside is that CFL may take 30 seconds to become fully lit.
How to change a lightbulb
Time needed: 5 minutes.
So, you come back home from work, switch on the lights, and only get a pitiful flicker before the room goes completely dark. There’s no doubt about it, your light bulb has died and you have to change it. Here are the steps of bringing the light back into your life:
Work during the day.
We know that you usually notice the light bulb needs changing when it’s dark out, and not everyone can wait until the next day. However, it’s hard to see in the dark and you might hurt yourself while stepping on a chair or a ladder. Also, the broken bulb will probably be hot. If you can wait until daytime to change the light bulb, do it. If not, take extra precautions.
Turn off the power.
If you’re changing the light bulb of a fixture with a plug, pull it out of the socket. If you’re changing the bulb of a wall or ceiling lighting, it would be a good idea to switch off the power just to be safe. By doing this you’ll switch off all the lighting in your house, which is another reason to replace the bulb during the day time.
Use a sturdy stepladder.
There are special extensions for changing a light bulb you can use if the target is too high up. If you have one of those, use it so you don’t have to get up on a chair or a ladder. If not, make sure you use a sturdy step ladder. Have a member of your household give you additional support just in case.
Take the bulb out of the socket
Once you can reach the light bulb, touch it lightly to make sure it’s not hot. If it’s easy to grip, twist it counterclockwise. Sometimes the base of the bulb stays attached to the socket. If this happens, you will need pliers to remove the screw. Have your helper hold the old light bulb while you screw in the new one.
Put the new bulb in the socket.
Once the socket is empty, position the base of the new light bulb in place and twist clockwise. Once you can’t twist it anymore, your job is done. Don’t screw the bulb too tightly, since it could easily break. Now, you can turn on the power supply and test your new light bulb.
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How to replace a fluorescent tube
Standard light bulbs are easy, but what do you do when you have to remove a tube bulb from a fluorescent lamp and put in a new one? Fluorescent lights are generally way more endurant than the standard ones, but there will come a time when you’ll have to replace them. Here’s what you have to do:
Turn off the power. Again, when handling any electrical work, even a small task like this one, it’s better to be safe. Switch off the power from your fuse box and test whether any lighting is still working. If not, you’re ready for your task. You can also use a voltage tester to verify that there is no power in the fixture.
Prepare a step ladder. Most standard light bulbs usually hang down, requiring you to just stand on a chair to reach them. With fluorescent lamps, however, you’ll need a step ladder that could get you to the ceiling. Position a stepladder underneath the fixture and make sure to have a buddy for additional support.
Remove the tube. Rotate the broken tube 90 degrees, while carefully supporting both ends with hands. You will be able to rotate the tube in either direction until it stops and slides out of the fixture. Gently lower the tube straight down and give it to your buddy. Be careful, since these tubes tend to roll around when they’re not placed in a stable position.
Replace the tube. To install the new fluorescent light, line the ends with the slots in either socket. Once it’s in place, rotate it 90 degrees until it locks into place. When you let go, it should stay there firmly. You can give the tube a gentle tug to test it.
Test the new tube bulb. Switch the power back on and turn on the fluorescent lamp. Some models need a minute to reach full brightness. If the new tube bulb isn’t working either, you may have a fixture malfunction, for which you will need the help of a professional electrician.
How to safely dispose of old light bulbs
Since we live in an age of abundance of material, it’s important to think about recycling. Once you replace your lightbulb, you have to figure out what to do with the broken one.
Incandescent and halogen light bulbs can be disposed of in your waste bin. The glass bulb cannot be recycled since the intricate system of wires and metals is very difficult to separate.
CFL and fluorescent tubes do not belong in the rubbish bin since they contain mercury. They must be collected separately for disposal. Not only will you not poison the environment with mercury, but also the materials the bulbs are made of won’t go to waste. You can find where to dispose of CFL and fluorescent tubes by filling in your postcode on the WEEE compliance scheme website.
LED light bulbs do not contain harmful substances, so they can be disposed of in the waste bin as well. However, they have recyclable parts and should generally be disposed of in recycling points especially if they’re in large amounts. Check the disposal rules on their instruction manuals for more information.
In need of a professional electrician?
Learning how to change a lightbulb is easy. However, sometimes the reason your lights don’t work is not the bulb’s fault, but a problem with the wiring. If you’re experiencing a wiring problem, it’s important to call a professional electrician as soon as possible, since they can cause serious damage if left unchecked. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the professional electricians from Fantastic Services!
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