I don't think light bulbs compress that way...
December 6, 2010 1:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I replace this recessed light bulb?

I have two light bulbs in recessed fixtures. Typically, you just reach up there and twist, or use the suction cup method. I've also heard duct tape can be effective for traction.

That's all well and good, except mine appear to have a deflector (pics #1 #2 #3) that completely prevents removing the bulb.

The deflector can spin, but will not retract, flex, or otherwise indicate that you can remove it.

The base of the fixture itself is basically completely flush with the ceiling. I've read that in situations like this, it may just be a matter of the previous owners having painted over it, the prescribed remedy being an x-acto knife to separate fixture-from-ceiling, but there's 0 clearance there, and I'd rather not trash my ceiling to replace these bulbs.

Is that what I need to do? No screws are visible, the light bulb is larger than the space allows for, and short of soaking it in vinegar like an egg through a soda bottle, I really don't see a way to remove this without some how removing the reflector.

Am I missing something obvious? Are there tips to separating the fixture from ceiling without destroying my paint job?

Much obliged!
posted by disillusioned to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
The big plastic ring around the outside of the fixture might twist.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:34 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: It's firmly affixed to ceiling. Do you mean once I break it free of its ceiling shackles?
posted by disillusioned at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2010

Sorry for asking the obvious, but are you totally sure the light bulb is larger than the space allows for? We have deflectors just like that, and I puzzled for a while, because it sure looks like the bulb won't fit... but then actually unscrewing it and wiggling it around revealed that it actually fit.
posted by Perplexity at 1:41 PM on December 6, 2010

On mine, you pull the ring off by pulling straight down--it's held by two metal clips on either side that you can't see.
posted by dobbs at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Looks like his ring has been painted into place.
posted by Max Power at 1:45 PM on December 6, 2010

Best answer: The white trim piece (baffle) should come off if you pull down. Check out this Home Depot how-to for a good visual.

It may take a razor blade around the edge to loosen any paint that may have been applied but if you're careful, you shouldn't wreck your ceiling.

When you replace your bulbs, maybe put in CFLs? They make some that look like flood lights. We have them in our kitchen and they're great plus you rarely have to change them.
posted by ACN09 at 1:47 PM on December 6, 2010

Some pot lights - like the ones in my basement - have a retainer clip pushing out against the ceiling to keep the fixture in place. Does the ring have any give when you turn it? If so, give a good tug and the whole fixture may come out and you should be able to access the bulb from the other end of the fixture.
posted by dismitree at 1:47 PM on December 6, 2010

The fixtures at our house are held in by a friction fit like dobbs describes. Give it a good, firm tug (TWSS) and see if it budges. (Don't force it, though, just in case it's held in by a different mechanism.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:48 PM on December 6, 2010

What dobbs said. It's got a metal wire clip on either side.
posted by fixedgear at 2:11 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: I think I'm going to need to take a blade to it to get it to give... it's completely flush and doesn't move at all.

And yeah, the light bulb is definitely too big. It's resting against the inside of the deflector! (Need to screw it back in before pulling the ring out, clearly.)

Thanks, all!

I'll let you know how it goes when I get home!
posted by disillusioned at 2:34 PM on December 6, 2010

I think that deflector is designed to flex downward in the middle and come out of there.

I'd put on a heavy kitchen glove and some kind of eyewear, place my thumb against one corner of the deflector and my little finger on the other, then squeeze down strongly with my middle finger to try to pop it out.
posted by jamjam at 4:13 PM on December 6, 2010

looking at it one more time, I'd say the deflector covers less than half the opening, and that raises the possibility you could move the deflector sideways without flexing it and then remove it easily.

Try that first.
posted by jamjam at 4:22 PM on December 6, 2010

Here you go.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:38 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: The reflector is HIGHLY inflexible. I cut around the opening (which took some plaster with it... how might I best patch that?) but it's still having a devil of a time popping out like that video shows. Will try to widen the gap a bit and try some more.
posted by disillusioned at 9:45 PM on December 6, 2010

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