How to Replace the Socket in a Recessed Light

Recessed lighting is used for many different types of lighting and in many different areas of the home. In the dining room, recessed lighting can create elegant lighting. In the foyer you can use recessed lighting to accent items on a display table. Recessed lighting in the kitchen makes excellent task lighting. In fact, recessed lighting can be used for general lighting anywhere you need it. From time to time, you may need to replace the socket, which is a minor repair compared to replacing the entire fixture.

Step 1

Turn off the electricity to the recessed light by turning off the breaker in the main electrical panel.

Step 2

Remove the light bulb and the trim from the recessed light. Recessed lighting trims come in several designs that create different lighting effects. The two most common ways recessed light trims attached to the recessed fixtures are with small coiled springs and butterfly springs. If the trim is held on by small coiled springs, simply grasp and stretch the spring to unhook it from the recessed fixture. With butterfly springs, you have to grasp the outside trim against the ceiling and pull it down and out from the recessed fixture. This will expose the two butterfly springs on each side of the trim and allow you to squeeze the spring wires toward each other to release the tension holding them in the L-tabs located inside the recessed fixture, releasing the trim.

Step 3

Remove the wing nut from the inside of the recessed fixture that holds the socket plate in place. The socket plate is a thin sheet of metal that the socket attaches to and is held in place with a small bolt and a wing nut. Use your fingers and turn the wing nut counterclockwise to remove.

Step 4

Take the socket plate out of the recessed fixture. You will need to remove the socket plate to expose the wiring at the back of the socket and to replace the socket.

Step 5

Cut the black and white wires that connect the socket to the recessed housing. Use wire cutter/strippers and cut the wires as close to the old socket as possible to leave enough wire to connect another socket. Using the same tool, strip a 1/2 inch of insulation off of each end of the wires you cut from the socket.

Step 6

Remove the old socket from the socket plate. The socket is held onto the socket plate with metal spring clips, squeeze the spring clips toward the socket to release and pull the old socket out of the socket plate.

Step 7

Install the new socket in the socket plate. The new socket will install into the socket plate with metal spring clips and be inserted in the same manner you removed the old socket.

Step 8

Wire the new socket to the recessed fixture. Attach the white wire to the aluminum screw on the back of the socket and tighten the screw to hold the wire in place. Attach the black wire to the copper screw and tighten that screw as well.

Step 9

Replace the socket plate inside the recessed fixture and hold it in place with the wing nut you removed in step three.

Step 10

Replace the trim, light bulb and turn the electricity back on at the main breaker panel.

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.