How to change a recessed light bulb?

Susan Fernandez January 01 2022

When does it happen?

So, your bulb recessed, what does it mean?

  • You cannot turn on the light
  • You can still turn on the lights but there are strange noises coming out of it
  • It gets very hot inside the casing, you can feel it if touched.

If any of these things happened to your recessed lights, it is time for you to change your bulb.

Why did it happen?

Reasons for having recessed lights giving you problems are:

  1. Bulb's life has expired: recessed lights can last up to 3 years or more if used lightly. If the bulb is overused, then it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. When a bulb's working life has expired, strange things will happen and what you need is to change your bulb.
  2. Flaw inside: sometimes there are flaws on the inside of the casing that after time makes it difficult for the bulbs to function properly. You might think you don't need replacement but if you really want to save yourself from any trouble in the future, just change your original lightbulb with a new one anyway. This way, safety comes first than regretting later about not changing your old lightbulbs because that ended up costing dearly when something bad happens again.
  3. Flickering and buzzing: this is the last sign before your recessed lights are totally broken. When you hear popping sounds with flickering light, it's time for you to change your bulb.
  4. Your old bulb has burnt out: every piece of equipment that burns has a limited working life just like humans. If there are differences though, then it becomes important not to use an expired bulb unless they want to risk their lives on using the said equipment.

Type of Recessed Light Bulbs

Recessed lights come in different types so it's only natural not to use the same kind of bulb for all fixtures available at home. Here is some information about recessed light bulbs:

  • Incandescent: it is the kind of bulb that has filaments inside. This is one of the most common types of bulbs that are available in the market these days.
  • CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Lights are other types of the recessed light bulb. It is more powerful when compared with incandescent lights because it emits more heat when used, which makes this type beneficial when you want lots of light for your space.
  • LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes are usually preferred over other kinds because they last longer and operate at cooler temperatures making them ideal for insulated spaces like homes, workshops, etc.

Bulbs lifespan

As there are different types of bulbs, their lifespans are also different. Here is the average lifespan of each kind.

Incandescent bulbs, if it's used moderately can last up to 7 years or more depending on how frequently it is turned on and off. But if you use the bulb only for short periods of time, then it might not even last 2 years or so. This is why for safety reasons you should always change your old bulbs.

CFLs usually last 9 times longer than incandescent lightbulbs but this quality makes them more expensive than other kinds which is why some people would rather stick with the cheaper ones without giving too much thought to their health and safety instead.

LEDs are known to last 20 times longer than CFL bulbs so they don't need to be replaced that often. If there is one thing about LED lights though, it's their expensive price that makes them less preferable than CFLs and incandescent lightbulbs.

What are the difficulties you will face with recessed fixtures?

Recessed fixtures are easy to replace but not as easy if the following conditions are met.

You are blinded by love for your broken fixture or do not want to buy another one or you are simply cheap. This only means that you need glasses. Get over it because cheapness does not pay off here. Safety must be prioritized over saving money on safety equipment like lightbulbs, right? Do it the other way around and that would end up breaking your bank account badly.

You cannot reach where the bulb is located: this is true especially when you have cathedral ceilings in your house. If this happens, then it's time for you to call a professional electrician who has good skills and knowledge about recessed light replacement.

You are not allowed to do it yourself: some homeowner associations won't allow their residents to replace the light bulb themselves. This is one of those cases where you will need professional help even if your recessed lights are faulty. Do not risk breaking their rules and regulations that would lead to troubles in the future. It's better for you to call an electrician right away before things get worse like getting fined on replacing a broken bulb with another.

How can you easily reach a bulb in the recessed fixture?

Some recessed bulbs are hard to reach while some are easy. The thing is, there are always tricks you can employ in easily replacing the bulb without having someone or hiring a professional to do it for you. Here are some of them.

Get creative with your old furniture using the parts that you used before like an old chair's leg, drawer knob, screwdriver, and other things that would extend your arm so you can easily change your lightbulbs all by yourself. Pushing away broken fixtures is not enough motivation to take out these items from storage where they have been collecting dust for who knows how long? Not until something breaks, right? Now is the time to resurrect them! Take these tools out one by one and rotate them again as if they were brand new.

If you don't have screws to make a hole, then try using your fingers as screwdrivers instead if the bulb is easy enough to reach. Some bulbs are positioned out of reach but that doesn't mean they need professional help to replace them because, with little creativity and innovative thinking, one can easily change a lightbulb all by himself right in the comfort of his own home without spending a lot of money on hiring electricians for small projects like this.

What safety tips should you keep in mind?

Recessed lights might be easy to replace but it can also be dangerous for people who are not careful enough doing so since electricity is involved, so always wear gloves when changing bulbs, wear glasses as protective gear against any particles or dust that can fly around, and lastly, always turn off the power source before doing anything else.

How can I solve this?

You cannot just buy any type of light bulb, you have to make sure that the new one will fit in the old socket. Take note though that different sockets are not equal, there are different sizes for them. It is easier if your old bulb was still working so you already know which type fits best in your casing. To make sure, you can go get a replacement at hardware stores or simply follow these steps below:

STEP 1. Have somebody hold you up while you try to unscrew the old bulb. Make sure no power is flowing inside then hold with your hand or use pliers to pull out the fixture.

STEP 2. Find out which type of lightbulb socket it is, either bayonet cap (push and turn) or Edison screw (screw in). This information might be written on the package of your recessed light fixture so check that out first before buying anything.

STEP 3. You need to buy a new one since you cannot just change bulbs randomly without checking for compatibility first. Take note though that different types of bulbs can still fit regardless of what type your current socket has if they are not designed for each other, they will not work properly or at all.

STEP 4. Put your new bulb in with the right type of light fixture then turn it on to check if it's working or not. If you are satisfied with its brightness or how it looks, then make sure to screw in tightly and restore the power source for safety reasons after doing so.

That is the whole process of changing recessed lights depending on whatever condition you are facing regarding this particular issue at hand. For more information, read related articles online to help yourself out with knowing more about these things especially when they involve electricity.

Safety never gets old like cheapness does because cheapness can end up killing you while sacrificing your safety for savings is not worth it anymore since both go hand in hand anyway. Follow instructions precisely when dealing with electricity and that will protect you in more ways than one.

Can you prevent a bulb recession?

You can prevent a bulb recession by changing your bulbs every 6 months to every year. It depends on how often you use them since they are not meant to last for years or even longer since it would cost you more in energy bills because of that. It might seem like an unnecessary expense but sometimes, you need to see things from another perspective if you want to get rid of this particular problem once and for all.

There are various other factors that contribute towards the depreciation of lightbulbs' life span, some are environmental while others are product specific. For example, room temperature has an effect on these kinds of lamps since heat causes them to dry up faster than normal. Product-related factors include voltage fluctuations, humidity levels inside the household and sometimes even how often you turn on and off the lamp itself.


You might think that all recessed lighting is the same but no, there are various types of these fixtures that serve different purposes. Some of them have their light source coming from the side while others from below. You can even get ones with a built-in fan if you want to install it inside your living room or kitchen which will help circulate air for more efficient cooling during summer seasons.

It is not practical though if you don't feel like doing it which is why having a guide on how to change your existing one is still better than nothing at all since people tend to forget things especially when technology gets updated every year plus moving around an old one and replacing it with a new one can be challenging too depending on where you may put it up which is why you need to be careful beforehand.

If anything goes wrong during the process, then that can take things into your own hands which is never a good thing especially when the whole house depends on it for lighting purposes.

You can change recessed light bulb through various means, some are easy while others are not even if you have the time since it does require manual labor and physical efforts before doing so especially since this particular task takes up enough of your effort as well as patience before seeing results after getting down to business with whatever problem at hand.

It might seem like nothing but not every household has people who know how to fix stuff around them which is why they should consider hiring professionals instead to do certain tasks that they cannot do themselves unless they know-how which is pretty rare nowadays.