How To Fix Fluorescent Light Fixtures

If you've never had to fix a fluorescent light fixture before, then the task can seem pretty daunting. It isn't the easiest job that you'll ever take on, but it isn't the worst job in the world. It's pretty simple, but you will need some basic electrical skills that will help you identify certain wires, strip insulation, and install some wire nuts.

My Light Is Flickering... What Needs To Be Fixed?

When your fluorescent light is flickering without relief, there are a number of possibilities that could be causing this issue. The bulb is the first and most obvious choice. Sometimes the easiest fix is to simply replace the bulb! If your new fluorescent light is flickering just as badly as the previous one was, however, then it could be your starter or your ballast.

Many of today's fluorescent fixtures don't include a starter any more, but many older homes still have the old-fashioned fixtures. You can locate the starter by identifying the small gray cylinder that plugs into the actual frame of the fixture. This little metallic tube delays the electricity from interacting with the gas in the light tube momentarily so that there isn't instantaneous ignition.

It's not always easy to find the starter. Sometimes they're under the light bulbs that they control. Others are hidden in compartments that must be accessed with specific tools. Find it, take it out, and replace it with one that is rated for a similar wattage. Starters are like the light bulbs – the only way to determine if it is the problem is to replace an old one with a new one.

What If My Problem Is the Ballast?

If you need to replace the ballast in your fluorescent light fixture, you might just want to price out the part and compare it to a brand new fixture. New fixtures don't have that annoying hum that the old ballasts create, but sometimes a whole fixture replacement is more of a problem than just replacing the ballast.

The repair itself is pretty easy. Make sure you remove the power supply and then take a look at the wires coming out of the ballast. Take your new ballast and then just replace the part following the color scheme. Just keep in mind that some fixtures may have two ballasts and you may need to end up replacing both of them.

Your best option is likely a magnetic ballast, especially if you're maintaining an older fluorescent light fixture. They'll give you up to 20 years of life and are rather in expensive. Electrical ballasts don't have the same hum and stay silent until they die. For magnetic ones, however, they get louder as their death draws near. Electrical ballasts are often 50% more expensive.

By focusing on these three components, you'll be able to repair your fluorescent light fixture in just a few minutes. Always remember the worst case scenario: you can just replace the whole fixture and just solve the problem that way too.
Posted on Sep 20, 2014


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