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October 13, 2013 9:41 AM   Subscribe

I've recently moved into a new apartment and found that two of the three bulbs in the bathroom vanity lighting are burnt out. The problem? I can't figure out how to actually get at the bulbs to replace them. Can you help? Images and description inside...

My new apartment has this vanity lighting in one of it's bathrooms and the middle and right bulbs are both burnt out. Try as I might, however, I can't seem to remove the pieces surrounding the bulbs to replace them and was hoping one of you could point me in the right direction.

A closer look at the underside of each lamp is here. As you can see, the bulb is surrounded by a small glass enclosure which is screwed into the metal on either side in two places, as better evidenced here and here. I can't get at those screws to remove that enclosure.

What I have tried:

1) Turning the larger white lampshade type housing in both directions which does nothing. It's on there fairly loosely and is decorative only. It will spin but the rest of the housing remains stationary.

2) Pulling and turning the small glass enclosure surrounding the bulb in both directions to try and remove it, neither of which does a thing. It won't budge and I gave it a pretty good effort. I don't want to use even more strength for fear of breaking the lamp entirely.

3) Using pliers to attempt to unscrew both the outer ring of metal and the inner "ring" (really the pieces of metal screwed into the enclosure.) I got the outer ring to move very reluctantly, and maybe a quarter of a turn before it stopped and would move no more on one lamp. On the other lamp, it wouldn't move at all. Couldn't get a good grip on either inner ring on either lamp and wasn't able to rotate it.

4) Going behind the lamp to unscrew it from the entire assembly (screw pictured here) which also did nothing. Removing the screw didn't allow me to remove the lamp such that I could gain greater access to anything else.

What on Earth am I missing here? I feel like it's something completely obvious, but two other fairly handy people I know also took a look and were stumped. Unfortunately, I don't know the manufacturer of the lighting to locate assembly instructions, and neither does my landlord (who lives in a another state anyway.)

Can the genius that it the AskMeFi collective help an idiot like me out? Thanks!
posted by Rewind to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
Maybe the metal ring is rusted and isn't allowing for easy removal? That just happened to us.
posted by mrfuga0 at 9:53 AM on October 13, 2013

The screw at (4) isn't what's holding the lamp to the bar, it's more likely holding the entire bulb/socket/glass cover assembly inside the housing. Try removing it and pulling the whole assembly down/out, which should then give you access to the two screws to remove the small glass cover and access the bulb.
posted by bizwank at 10:15 AM on October 13, 2013

Well, I'd tell the landlord it was broken and make them come fix it or send an electrician. If they damage it getting the bulb out, it's on them.

I wouldn't want to use oil/WD-40, which I'd use for a non-electrical mechanical thing that was sticking.

Are you sure it's not some sort of bayonet lamp where you can press in/turn/remove the bulb?
posted by Mad_Carew at 10:16 AM on October 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Have you tried pushing in and turning? It kind of looks like the inner 1/4 ring might turn and unlock, which might pop it out with the bulb. No manufacturer marks?
posted by amanda at 10:39 AM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

The very similar fixture in my old bathroom required a SCARY amount of force to remove the dome shaped glass cover around the bulb, which was essentially held on by a clamp mechanism. If this is like that, you might make SURE the fixture is off and probe with a plastic utensil to check if the metal fixture holding on to said cover can be pushed in, like squeezing on both sides would loosen the grip of the clamp.
posted by theweasel at 10:42 AM on October 13, 2013

Is there a notch or hole in the glass shade that you can align with the screws holding the bulbs in place? Looking at the interior close-up I can see a gap in the metal ring, but I can't tell if you can get a driver all the way through.
posted by carsonb at 10:53 AM on October 13, 2013

Response by poster: bizwank - Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be correct. Removing the screw allows you to move the decorative ring around the lamp as show in the 1st picture, but doesn't allow me any easier access to the bulb housing.

Mad_Carew & amanda - nope, push and turn is a no-go.

theweasel - Not ENTIRELy sure I followed you, but I couldn't find anything to squeeze in to try and losen the grip of the clamp?

carsonb - nope - no notch in the glass shade. Sorry.

Thanks all for your idea so far, though!
posted by Rewind at 11:16 AM on October 13, 2013

I would tend to assume that you could give the glass diffuser dome a quarter turn and that it would then come loose and you could remove it. I think you've already tried that though? If you can't figure it out I'd call the landlord.
posted by Scientist at 11:45 AM on October 13, 2013

Best answer: I found an identical one online with a bit of googling here. Haven't looked further at the site, but maybe that will help?
posted by janerica at 11:57 AM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Uh oh--check out the review titled "good luck changing a burned out bulb"!
posted by janerica at 12:01 PM on October 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Impressive Googling, janerica! I saw there was a link to the manufacturer's page and they have an ask-a-question contact form. Perhaps you could contact them and ask for the special tool or instructions.
posted by cecic at 12:18 PM on October 13, 2013

I have not read the comments above. I'm just going to tell you that I had to service a very similar fixture last week and was similarly confused about how to get to the bulb. It turns out (ha!) that the glass tube enclosure is held in by that metal ring, and you UNSCREW THE WHOLE THING. Grab the frosted glass, and twist it counterclockwise as you would to unscrew anything. Assuming none of the above comments have helped, be brave and try hard to unscrew it, because that whole metal ring is threaded into the fixture base. The two little "screws" on the side are just to peg the glass to the ring.

After you get the glass cover off, you are then presented with a smaller light bulb and exactly the same dilemma all over again -- how to get THAT out. Some halogen bulb PULL straight out and I did try that but it didn't budge. Then I tried to unscrew it; this time it was harder than the big frosted glass cover but it did unscrew out. Turned out to be a halogen light with an E11 base.

Halogen lights are common for vanity lights because of their color temperature.

When screwing the replacement halogen bulb in, don't let your skin touch the bulb glass. Hold it with tissues or something. Skin oils contaminate and eventually damage the bulb.
posted by intermod at 1:05 PM on October 13, 2013

Cecic mentioned it above; I've actually used the Ask Mr. Minka form online a couple of times and gotten very helpful advice.
posted by wryly at 2:24 PM on October 13, 2013

According to comments at Janerica's link above, it sounds like you need a special tool to remove the casing to change the bulb, and even then you're likely to end up with a broken shade.

Have your landlord deal with it.
posted by trip and a half at 3:17 PM on October 13, 2013

Response by poster: Those are some VERY impressive Google skills janerica. Thanks to you and everyone else for your help. I've contacted both the manufacturer and the landlord and will wait to hear back. Thanks again all!
posted by Rewind at 3:38 PM on October 13, 2013

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