How to Remove Recessed Light Fixture from Ceiling: The Complete Guide

Man removing light fixture from ceiling

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. You go to change a lightbulb in a recessed light fixture and the whole thing comes crashing down on you.

Whether it’s because the old bulb was rusted in place or the socket just gave out, removing the old recessed light fixture can be a real pain.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of removing a recessed light fixture from your ceiling, so you can get it replaced or repaired in no time.

What You’ll Need

Before you get started for recessed light fixture removal, there are a few things you’ll need to gather.

First, you’ll need a stepladder or other tall object that will help you reach the fixture. You’ll also need a screwdriver (preferably Phillips head) and a pair of needle-nose pliers.

If the recessed light is one that uses screws to hold the trim in place, you’ll need to remove the screws before you can take the trim off. In this case, you may also need a drill to remove the screws, as they can sometimes be difficult to remove by hand.

Now that you have all of your tools gathered, you’re ready to get started.

Step 1: Turn Off the Power

The first step in removing any light fixture is to turn off the power to the fixture. This will help prevent you from being electrocuted while you work.

To do this, simply locate your home’s circuit breaker box and flip the switch for the circuit that the light is on.

If you’re not sure which circuit the light is on, you can always play it safe and flip the switch for the entire house. Just be sure to flip it back on once you’re finished working.

Step 2: Remove the Trim

The next step is to remove the trim around the outside of the fixture. This trim is usually held in place with screws, so you’ll need to remove the screws before you can take the trim off.

If the screws are particularly stubborn, you may need to use a drill to remove them. Now that the screws are out, carefully pull the trim slightly or fully away from the ceiling.

If the trim is glued in place, you may need to use a putty knife to pry it loose.

Step 3: Disconnect the Wires

With the trim out of the way, you should now be able to see the wires that connect the fixture to the power source. Before you can remove the fixture, you’ll need to disconnect these wires.

To do this, simply twist the wire connector (or “wire nut”) off of the end of each wire. Once the wires are disconnected, you can remove the fixture from the ceiling.

Step 4: Remove the Fixture

Light fixture being removed from ceiling

With the trim and wires out of the way, the only thing left holding the fixture in place is the mounting bracket. In most cases, this bracket is held in place with screws.

Remove the screws and carefully pull the fixture down from the ceiling. If the bracket is glued in place, you may need to use a putty knife to pry it loose.

Once you've removed the recessed light fixture, you can remove the bulb and dispose of it properly.

Step 5: Install the New Fixture

Now that the old fixture is out, it’s time to install the new one. Start by attaching the new mounting bracket in the same place as the old one. Then, connect the wires to the new fixture and screw the trim back into place.

Finally, turn on the power and screw in a new lightbulb. Your new fixture should now be up and running!

That's how to remove a recessed light fixture!


Removing a recessed light fixture can be a tricky process, but with a little patience and the right tools, it’s definitely doable.

Just be sure to take all the necessary safety precautions and you should have no problem getting the job done.

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