How many MeFites does it take to change this light bulb?
January 17, 2017 12:07 PM   Subscribe

The bulb in an overhead light fixture in my house has burned out. I cannot get the fixture open so I can change the bulb. Help me before I decide to just smash the damn thing.

Pictures of the fixture here and here. The obvious way to get it open--and in fact the only one I can see--is to turn the central knob, which it seems like should screw onto some kind of threaded central mount.

The problem is that I cannot get the knob to turn for love nor money. I can move it maybe an inch in each direction, and then it jams tight. It is, as you can see, very smooth and without anything I can grip. I've thought about trying to squirt WD-40 between the knob and glass, but figure it would probably ooze/drip down onto the knob, thereby making the situation worse.

Any ideas? (If the consensus answer is "You're just gonna have to smash the damn thing," I will do so in an anti-celebratory fashion this Friday.)
posted by Kat Allison to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried moving the glass instead of the knob? We had a similar fixture (sans knob) and the glass was screwed into the fixture.
posted by Constant Reader at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Try turning the whole globe counter-clockwise. Put one hand tightly on each side of it and turn it. You might have to press up slightly when you do it.

I have a similar fixture, though without the central knob, and that's how it's done. It's kind of a pain in the ass.
posted by bondcliff at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's got to be turning that little nub. I'd try wrapping it in a rubber band or something else grippy and trying to grab that.

I can think of two reasons why it turns a little and then gets stuck. The first is that it was screwed on cross threaded. The second is that you're actually starting the back out the the tube it's threaded on to. The solution to either is get more grip and turn it harder.
posted by advicepig at 12:15 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just thirding that I don't think that middle thing unscrews, and instead the entire glass unscrews (just like a quarter turn, probably). If you've been messing with it (or even if not) it might be a little bit tight - tapping with the ball of your hand around the whole rim of the dome may help, and also turn just a little harder than you think. Turn it counterclockwise.
posted by brainmouse at 12:16 PM on January 17, 2017

I had a light fixture like that that had these sort of hinges/arms on the inside connecting the cap to the ceiling. I had to pull down on the cap with some force because it was sticking to the paint on the ceiling, and then it eventually popped off, with the arms holding it just far enough down to reach in and grab the bulb. Maybe try that?
posted by joan_holloway at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

We had a similar fixture at a previous job of mine that was opened by turning the metal rim above the glass - it attached, via several pin/slot things, to a circular metal frame that was itself screwed into the ceiling.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:21 PM on January 17, 2017

I'm looking at one of these right now. The globe (glass part) is what turns. You might have to give it a little oomph if it hasn't been done in a while.
posted by Etrigan at 12:26 PM on January 17, 2017

Yep, we have those too, from the previous owners. It's not the nub at all; definitely up by the ceiling. I'll get photos if knowing where to look isn't enough, but I remember it as being obvious once I finally stopped trying to do it the other way.
posted by teremala at 12:27 PM on January 17, 2017

Dr. Google also suggests spraying on a little WD-40 if you need to.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:28 PM on January 17, 2017

A lot of people have wondered the same thing. The first result is one of those magic random blog posts that somehow gains traction and ends up being an extremely useful crowdsourced reference for all the ways your light could potentially be affixed to the ceiling and how to get it down. The comments are pretty great too.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:38 PM on January 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

i knew it was going to be a horrible ceiling titty before i even opened the photos. since the horrible metal nipple thing isn't protruding, the entire frosted glass section should turn. it may be easier for you to grip it if you are wearing dry rubber dishwashing gloves.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

My husband got one off my mother's kitchen ceiling that looks vaguely similar. While the glass bowl did screw into the base, it was so tightly fitted that there was no way he could get enough leverage to do it while still on the ceiling for fear of breaking the glass.

To get the base off the ceiling, he had to turn it counter-clockwise. The base had a couple of tracks--like a chain lock on a door--that screws fitted into, and he had to find the correct way to turn it and move it to get the screw heads lined up with the wider end of the track.

(And then it turned out that some dimwit in the past had somehow wired the base to the screws as well, so it required a wire cutter to get off.)
posted by telophase at 12:44 PM on January 17, 2017

You all are AMAZING! The glass part is indeed what needed to turn (with some difficulty), Poffin Boffin's tip about rubber gloves was very helpful, and in short Metafilter is the goddamn best. Huge thanks from me, from my stubbed toes, and from my cats who are very tired of being stepped on.
posted by Kat Allison at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2017 [11 favorites]

Spin the glass but be warned that the "nipple" part is what is holding the glass up so you will need to be prepared to either catch it or switch to twisting the center metal part.
posted by saradarlin at 12:53 PM on January 17, 2017

posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 1:18 PM on January 17, 2017 [14 favorites]

I'm obviously late to this party, but the last time I had to change a bulb in a mystery ceiling light, I took a photo of it to the local Home Depot (which sells a ton of light fixtures), found one there that matched my mystery, and checked --- from the safety of the floor! --- how to open the stupid thing.
posted by easily confused at 2:16 PM on January 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

« Older light gray fonts on web pages   |   Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School 2 Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.