How to Open Fluorescent Light Fixtures

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It is easy to open fluorescent lights with some simple tools.
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You only need a sturdy step stool and a little bit of know-how to remove the acrylic cover from a fluorescent light fixture. Despite its appearance, these fluorescent light covers are extremely lightweight and flexible. As long as you're able to balance on a step stool and reach overhead, you'll have no problem removing an old cover and installing a new fluorescent light cover replacement.

Removing an Acrylic Cover

Acrylic fluorescent light covers are completely flat and rest inside of a decorative frame. Nothing special holds the cover in place, other than the ledge of the frame. To remove an acrylic cover from a fluorescent light fixture, push up on one of the short ends of the cover while supporting the other short end with your other hand.

As you push up on one short end, angle that end of the cover up into the light fixture a little bit. This will create enough space for the other short end to drop down. Simply maneuver the acrylic cover until a long side comes out of the frame, as well. The cover is made of a flexible material, so if you need to gently bend one of the corners in order to get it to pop out of the frame, it shouldn't break.

When the cover is completely out of the frame, it will be lightweight enough for you to hold in one hand as you step off of the step ladder. If it is in good condition, set it aside while you replace the fluorescent lights. If it's broken, measure its dimensions so that you can purchase a new one.

Replacing an Acrylic Cover

Replacing an acrylic cover is just as easy as removing it. You'll start by angling one short end into the frame, followed by one long end. From there, continue to maneuver the acrylic cover into the frame by sliding it back and forth to create room for the other sides to push into the frame. You may need to gently bend the final corner to get it into the frame.

When all sides are in the frame, make sure the cover is lying flat and is placed on the frame evenly.

How to Replace Drop Ceiling Light Fixtures

A flat acrylic fluorescent light cover is what you'll typically encounter in a home kitchen. However, businesses and institutions typically have drop ceiling light fixtures. The entire frame is held in place by a T-bar ceiling grid and lies flush with the ceiling panels, which simply push up and out of the way to allow access to utilities for maintenance.

To replace drop ceiling light fixtures is pretty easy. The fixture has two levers holding its frame securely in place. But once you unlatch these levers, you don't need to worry about the frame falling out. It will open just a few inches on one side.

From there, slide it toward the open side in order to activate its hinges. The frame should swing down at about a 90-degree angle, giving you plenty of room to work as you replace the fluorescent lights.

How to Remove a Wraparound Fixture

The third type of light cover you might encounter is called a wraparound lens, which might be seen in a garage or a business environment. This is a long cover with a U shape. The sides of the U fold over at the top so that the entire lens can rest on a lip on the light fixture. To remove this type of fluorescent light cover, push up on one of the long sides to get the cover off of the lip, and then bring it down. Repeat on the other side.

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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.

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