How to Change a Light Bulb in a Shower Ceiling

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Overhead shower lights are secured within a recessed fixture.
Image Credit: krooogle/iStock/GettyImages

The light fixtures in shower ceilings are often recessed, meaning they lie flush with the ceiling. Other shower lights are integrated into the exhaust fan in the bathroom ceiling. To protect the light bulb from splashing water, all of these fixtures have a cover. Removing this cover is the first step in changing the light bulb in a shower ceiling, and you typically don't need any tools to do so.

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Follow Safety Precautions

Once you've determined the light bulb in the shower ceiling has burnt out, turn off the light switch controlling that bulb. As an extra safety measure, you can also turn off the breaker linked to that light fixture while changing the light.

Next, use a step stool or step ladder to reach the ceiling fixture. To avoid overreaching, you might want to place the step stool in the bathtub. However, this poses a potential slip hazard, which you can reduce by placing a rubber-backed rug or a thick towel on the shower floor before placing the step stool inside the shower. Don't attempt to balance on the side of the bathtub, and don't ever stand in water while doing any sort of electrical work.

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If the light bulb just recently burnt out or was just turned off, Peterson Electric says you should allow it to cool before attempting to touch it. Light bulbs can get hot and burn your hand. In a pinch, protect your hand with an oven mitt before removing a hot light bulb.

Removing Shower Light Covers

Recessed light covers have two main pieces: the circular perimeter and the clear piece that allows light to filter through. In some recessed light models, the clear piece will twist off. Simply place your fingers on it, apply light pressure and move it counterclockwise. After a few twists, it will come off in your hand.

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If you twist and twist this clear piece to no avail, your recessed light cover is likely another style that pulls down. Using both hands, grasp the circular perimeter piece and pull straight down. Hinges will allow the cover to hang down and swing out of the way to grant you easy access to the light bulb.

To remove the light cover on shower exhaust fans, find the tab on the side of the cover that you can fit a finger over. Pull down on this tab to remove the light cover.

Removing and Replacing Light Bulbs

Once you have the light fixture cover off, you can now reach the light bulb. Grasp it with one hand and twist it counterclockwise until it comes loose. Install a new light bulb in the same shape and voltage as the previous light bulb. You can purchase a bulb with a different brightness (measured in lumens) if you want a brighter or softer glow.

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Make sure the new bulb works by turning on the light switch. If it's a dud, replace it with another bulb. With the light once again turned off, replace the light cover by reversing the method you used to remove the cover.

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Cathy Habas enjoys distilling even the most complicated home improvement tasks into bite-sized pieces. She believes in empowering homeowners one article at a time.