How to change a lightbulb

Wondering how to change a lightbulb? It's the easiest DIY job –with a few potential complications. Here's our time-tested method

How to change a lightbulb
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Looking into how to change a lightbulb? It's one of the basic DIY jobs everyone needs to be able to do, and is mostly very simple – until it's not, due to tricky fixtures, or a bulb that's broken. Follow this comprehensive guide to changing all kinds of lightbulbs from all kinds of fixtures. 

Warning: every time you change a lightbulb, you must completely switch off the fixture. If it's a lamp with a plug, unplug it. This is absolutely essential to prevent electrocution. 

You also need to make sure that whatever new bulb you're getting is the same wattage as your existing fitting; if you're not sure what the wattage is, bring your old bulb to the shop. And, our advice? Wait till the old bulb has cooled before attempting to replace it.

How to change a lightbulb: screwtop

Screwtop bulbs are the easiest to change: simply turn your bulb anti-clockwise to loosen and remove the bulb. Screw in the new one, taking care not to screw it in too tightly: stop when it naturally stops turning. If the bulb doesn't light up, switch off, then try tightening it in a little bit. If you're using an incandescent bulb and it won't light up, you might have a broken filament and it will need a replacement. 

How to change a lightbulb: bayonet

Bayonet fittings are different: two prongs fit into a matching fixture. To remove an old bayonet bulb, push it it slightly, then turn anti-clockwise and gently pull it out. When putting in the new bulb, push it in gently but firmly and turn it clockwise until it's firmly in place. 

How to change a broken lightbulb

We'll repeat our advice here to ensure the light is switched off – that's much more important than if the bulb is intact. When replacing a broken lightbulb, always wear protective gloves, as further glass may chip off and injure your hands. If the bulb is completely shattered and you're having trouble gripping the base of the bulb in order to remove it, try the potato method. Slice a potato in half and push it over the broken bulb, then twist. It should come out easily. 

How to change a lightbulb that's stuck 

If you're changing a screwtop lightbulb that's stuck, the brown tape method is your best bet: cut two long strips of tape and attach them either side of the bulb, sticking together to form handles. Holding the handles firmly, twist the bulb out. 

Removing a stuck bayonet bulb is trickier: once they get stuck, they tend not to budge no matter which way you twist. So, the best thing to do is to dismantle the fitting, which will eventually allow you to remove the bulb. 

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.