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How hard is it to change a light fixture?
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2007
Posted by: Scott McMahan | more..
Putting up ceiling fans and light fixtures is nothing new to me, so I thought changing one ancient one in a particular room (to a newer one that gave off more light) would be a ten-minute job. Little did I know! This was an unusual project.

The area needed more light than a small fixture, so I got a bigger three-bulb fixture at the local hardware chain. I got the old fixture down, and started putting the new one up. As you know, there are two sets of holes. Smaller fixtures have bolts that go through the inner set of holes, usually threading into a small metal plate that is, itself, bolted into the larger set of holes. If you have a heavy fixture, it bolts into the outer pair of larger holes.

But the larger set of holes on this fixture was too large even for the larger set of holes the plate was bolted into. When I removed the plate, the two sets of holes didn't line up. But I noticed there were two holes in the ceiling bracket itself on the edges, and those were the holes my heavy fixture would have to be mounted on. Not a problem.

But the bolts that came with the fixture didn't fit. Not a problem, I have thousands of screws, bolts, nails, tacks, and fasteners in the basement. I dug, and dug, and dug, and dug. Nothing was small enough!

I finally found one little bolt that would fit into the ceiling bracket's outer holes. Two problems: I only had one bolt, not two, this size; and it was also too short to go through the fixture and reach up into the bracket's hole. Not a problem, that's what hardware stores are for.

Except the hardware stores didn't have what I needed! I went to three different places, and only one had the little bolts at all. But they weren't long enough. They only had half-inch ones, which wasn't long enough to go into the fixture, and have enough bolt sticking out to go into the ceiling bracket. I did find out that the bolt was a 4-40 thread, which helped later. This size (very small) must have been standard at one time for light fixtures, but it doesn't seem to be any more. I can't remember ever using them before.

At this point, I thought about replacing the ceiling bracket. I didn't like that option because I'd have to put a bigger one in, most likely, which would mean a lot of disruptive work. The other option was to get a pair of 2-inch 4-40 bolts. But where?

There is a place on the Internet called boltdepot.com, where you can order any bolt, screw, etc in existence. They had what I needed.

Now I have a happy light fixture that is securely bolted to the ceiling. A project that could have taken 10 minutes took over 10 days as I trawled hardware stores for the bolts and then waited for the order to be shipped.

Category:  Home Improvement/DIY

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