How to Fix a Ceiling Light Which Has Stopped Working

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Things You'll Need

  • Ladder

  • Screwdriver

  • Volt meter

  • Wire nuts

  • Electrical tape

Image Credit: Images

Knowing how to fix a ceiling light which has stopped working will save money spent on repairs and give the homeowner a sense of satisfaction. The main thing she needs to remember is to turn the electricity off before disconnecting the light fixture. However, if the reason for its malfunction is not clear, she will need to leave the electricity on and use a voltmeter to check the connections. Simple voltmeters are inexpensive and very useful around the house when an electrical problem exists. For more on voltmeters and how they are used, see "Measuring Voltage: How to Use a Voltmeter" in the Resource section of this article.

Step 1

Remove the light switch cover plate with a screwdriver. Set the screw and the cover plate aside. Make sure the light switch is on.

Step 2

Notice there is a screw at the top right-hand side of the switch and one at the bottom on the same side. Set the voltmeter on 120-volt setting and place one probe connected to the voltmeter on the top screw and the other one on the bottom screw.

Step 3

Check the needle on the voltmeter to determine if electricity is flowing through the switch. If there is, then the problem is going to be between the light switch and ceiling light fixture. Turn the light switch off.

Step 4

Remove the globe covering the light bulbs and remove the bulbs as well. Set them aside. Locate the screws that secure the light fixture to the ceiling light junction box and back them out far enough to allow the fixture to come away from the junction box.

Step 5

Locate the connections between the light fixture and the ceiling. There should be one black wire from the fixture connected to a black wire from the ceiling along with a white and a bare wire connected to their same color counterparts. If one of the wires is disconnected, reconnect the wires with wire nuts and wrap the connection with new electrical tape.

Step 6

Slip the fixture over the screws that secure it to the junction box and tighten the screws. Install the light bulbs and turn the light switch on.


Placing a step ladder under the ceiling fixture will allow you to rest the fixture on the top of the ladder while reconnecting the wires.

Test the voltmeter by setting it on the Ohm setting and touch the two leads together. If the needle moves all the way to the right, the voltmeter is working properly. If not, it may require new batteries.


Never leave tools unattended in the presence of children.

Never touch bare wires when the electricity to the fixture is still on.

references & resources

Michael Straessle

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.