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Fixing That Annoying Blinking Fluorescent Light


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So now its time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. There are some very important guidelines to follow when doing electrical work:

-Have all the materials you will need for your project. There is nothing worse than being half way in your project to find out you don't have everything you need.
-Have the right tool for the job your doing

Following our safety guide we need to turn the power off to the light. You can just turn the switch off to the light and that will remove power, but we need to make sure nobody will accidentally turn it on when your working on it. So find your fuse box or circuit panel and shut the breaker off as well. Look for breaker tags such as gen lighting, or lighting.

Now that we know we are safe to work on the fluorescent light here are the tools you will need:

-A fiberglass ladder (make sure it is fiberglass when working with electricity because fiberglass does not conduct electricity. )
-Lineman pliers
-Nut driver
-Wire strippers
-Voltage tester

Now that we have our tools we need to rule out some simple fixes. I have been on calls that I felt so bad charging a customer for something they easily could have done themselves. Number one thing to do is replace the bulb. Keep in mind there are two types most commonly found and they are T-12 and T-8. The T-12 is a fat tube and a T-8 is thin in circumference, that's the easiest way to figure out what it is. If your still not sure remove the bulb and look at the end of the tube and there will be a model number on it with either T-12 of T-8 in or around that area.

Ok, so we changed the bulb and it's not the fix. The problem most likely lies in the ballast. By removing the center cover we can access the ballast, you should see wire colors of black, red, blue, yellow, white and green. Before you remove anything you need to make sure you have the right type of ballast. Make sure the model numbers are the same and the type of ballast is the same. All newer fixtures use electronic ballasts, while older models might use rapid start, and magnetic type ballasts as some examples. We know we have the right ballast so what I do before I even remove the ballast is take the black and white wire from the ceiling box and remove it from the ballast without touching the bare copper and test them with your voltage tester to make absolute sure they are dead, cap each one with a wire nut, these wires are what give power to the ballast.

Look at the colors and where there connected to. I then cut the wires with my linesmans pliers after the wire nut. I do this because when you put the new ballast in it will have the same colored leads as the old one, so you can use it to help you reconnect the colors of wires to the light. After you cut the wires remove the ballast with your nut driver making sure not to lose that nut you will need it later!!! CAUTION: The ballast may be hot to the touch, put some gloves on or use a rag when handling the ballast. Install the new ballast by aligning it into the slots and the hole where the nut was. Simply fasten the nut down and the ballast should now be secured to the fixture. Now connect blue to blue, red to red, yellow to yellow using orange wire nuts. Next hook up the black wire being careful because this is your “HOT" wire to the black and the white to the white. One thing you need to do when connecting the wires is to make sure that you twist your wires together, do not just rely on the wire nut. If you do not twist your wires it could cause a fire by not having a good connection.

Place the cover back on the fixture, put some new lamps in and your done.

Turn the breaker back on at the panel, turn the switch on and let there be light. Now the bragging starts.

John F. writes writes articles for various trade publications. Want to know more visit my blog!


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