How to Replace a Fluorescent Tube

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A fluorescent tube is a long, thin type of light that is attached to fittings on walls and ceilings. The tube lights up by exiting mercury atoms with electricity to produce visible light. If the light starts to flicker, or if only one end of the tube works, the starter will need to be replaced. If the light doesn't turn on at all, you will need to replace the entire tube. The light's instruction manual will advise you on the size and type of replacement fluorescent tube required.


How to Replace a Fluorescent Tube
Image Credit: eugenesergeev/iStock/GettyImages

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Clearing the Area

Clear the floor area and make sure all children and pets are out of the room. Turn off the light switch, and allow the tube to cool for several minutes. Turn off the main power switch for the circuit, located in your home's central consumer unit.


Removing the Tube

Place the ladder directly underneath the fluorescent bulb. Remove the fluorescent tube's cover glass (if applicable), by gently pushing upward on the glass cover, then tilting it toward you. Some glass covers are held in place by screws at each end of the support bracket; unscrew them with a suitable-sized screwdriver.

Hold the edges of the tube gently and twist it toward you to release. Some models have tubes that require the end support brackets to be gently pulled apart in order to allow the bulb to come free. Be sure to never put pressure in the middle of the tube when replacing it so that it doesn't break.


Slide the new fluorescent tube back into the fitting by lining up the grooves on the end of the bulb and gently slotting it into place. Twist the tube to lock it in. Replace the glass cover. Switch the main circuit and light switch back on.

Replace the starter if the light still isn't working; the starter is located in the fitting racket. Repeat the first two steps again. Press the starter inward, turn it so that it faces away from you, and then remove it. Insert the new starter, push it into place, and it turn toward you to lock.

Disposing and Safety Precautions

Fluorescent lighting has a small amount of mercury in it, which can be toxic if someone is overexposed to it. Be sure to dispose of the broken light through a recycling program.


If the tube breaks, quickly make sure that no one else is in the room. Turn off any heating or AC in that room and open all of the doors and windows for 10 minutes for ventilation. Carefully remove the broken materials and place them into a sealable bag. Then clean any hard surface with a damp paper towel or rag. Be sure to also dispose of that towel or rag in the sealable bag as well.

Do not ever vacuum any broken fluorescent tubes.


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Alice Stewart

Alice Stewart is an experienced freelance writer who has specialized in creating unique and informative Web content since 2005. Her previous clients include the Times Online, Wizz Air, Cyprus Air, BMI, Highland Experience and Scottish Tours. Stewart studied English language and law at Oxford F.E. College and completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in performing arts in 2007.