How to Remove Fluorescent Light Fixtures

Fluorescent light fixtures are very energy efficient but not usually considered as decorative as other light fixtures. Removing fluorescent light fixtures can be more complicated than removing traditional light fixtures because fluorescent fixtures attach to the ceiling in several different locations and the wiring is hidden behind a panel rather than in the electrical box. Care must be exercised when removing fluorescent tubes, which shatter and explode when dropped.

Remove outdated fluorescent lights with care.

Step 1

Turn off the breaker supplying power to the fluorescent light fixture at the main electrical panel.

Step 2

Remove the fluorescent light tubes from the fixture. Recycle at approved location for hazardous waste disposal; several home-improvement retailers accept fluorescent light tubes. Fluorescent tubes contain mercury and are harmful to the environment, and therefore should not be disposed of with household trash.

Step 3

Remove the ballast cover from the fluorescent fixture. The cover could be attached with screws or the metal lip from the cover slides under tabs on the fixture. Removing the cover exposes the ballast and the wiring.

Step 4

Test to confirm that the power has been disconnected. Place one prong of a two-pronged electrical tester inside the wire connector holding the black wire from the house wiring, and touch the other probe from the tester to any metal on the light fixture. When the tester fails to light or register wattage, the power is disconnected correctly.

Step 5

Untwist the wire connectors holding the wires from the ballast to the black, white and bare copper wires from the house wiring.

Step 6

Remove the screws holding the fluorescent fixture to the ceiling. Replace the wire connectors onto the black, white and bare copper wires until you choose to replace the fixture.

Step 7

Turn the lighting circuit back on at the main electrical panel if it powers additional lights or other appliances; otherwise leave the circuit breaker off.

Cecilia Harsch

Cecilia Harsch has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications. She has several years of experience in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and a background in group exercise instruction. Harsch received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004. She attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition.