Light Fixture Replacement
A light fixture incorporates the cord, socket, heat detector and stainless steel 'can' into a factory sealed unit. When you've tried all the maintenance steps and a new bulb still refuses to light or worse, keeps kicking the breaker, the fixture's 'shot' and it's time to replace it.
Can this be a homeowner repair? You bet!
Time: Electrician: 30 minutes, Maintenance Engineer: 60 minutes, Homeowner 90 minutes.
Electrician Installed: $550- $650
Engineer or Homeowner Installed: $250- $400 (Color changing lights can add $400- $600)
Tools you'll needA pool light (w/ 10' more cord than the walking distance between the pool and the junction box), electrical (black) tape, screwdriver (slotted and phillips), a 'fish' (or a piece of #8 wire 10' longer than the light cord), a razor blade or sharp knife and three #10 wire nuts (black to black, white to white and bare house ground to green coated pool light ground).
When you go shopping for a new light take any information you have about the old light including manufacturer, voltage, wattage and diameter size. To eliminate any chance of error, be sure the power is 'off', cut the cord and take the metal part of the fixture with you. A 'repair ring' was used on this job, so either a Hayward or American-style fixture could be installed.
With that in mind, this is how quickly a simple light fixture replacement can become an 'interesting day' and about as bad as it gets.
The sitution: A 'dead' 115 volt light fixture has been cut off and removed by the homeowner; the cord is left coiled in the niche. The junction box is directly behind the fixture only 6' away. The niche is site- formed concrete and the cord has been sealed with marcite where it exits the back of the niche. The marcite is chipped away to open the original conduit.
As a routine procedure, the junction box is opened, the house wires disconnected and an electrician's 'fish' tied and taped to any one of the light cord wires. The other wires are cut back from the knot to avoid dragging a bundle.
The first foot is pulled easily by hand. Then, the cord begins to drag. Vegetable oil could have been poured into the junction box end of the conduit, but because the first part had gone so easily, the problem was perceived to be a physical obstruction (a rock or sand glob is common).
A pry bar is used; catching the cord between the prongs of the bar, using the pool surface as a fulcrum (this pool was being resurfaced or a block of wood would have been used to protect the marcite). Progress is slow but steady for the next 12 inches.
The cord suddenly stops and the prongs of the pry bar tears into the insulated wire. The cord/ fish is jammed with a six inch 'throw'; the cord can only back up half a foot before it again jams. A sawing motion (holding the torn end with a pair of 'Vise Grip' pliers) and drawing the cord back and forth, does nothing to loosen the obstruction.
Water is used to wash out any sediment. A hose is placed in the pool- end of the conduit where it does carry out muddy water, a definite sign it's breaking up something. Water placed in the junction box end of the conduit does not run into the pool, meaning the clog is water tight. Air pressure (sealing the air hose in the conduit with 'duct seal') is tried with no better result.
A sawing motion used with a garden hose results in more muddy water but does nothing to free the cord. It becomes apparent that the entire conduit may have to be replaced and a final effort is made to pull the fish. The cord breaks and the two ends pop free.
The fish is placed through the pool end of the light conduit and finds an obstruction 3' back into the conduit. By measuring across the deck, a 45 degree plumbing fitting is found by digging 18" directly below the junction box.
That fitting is cut out and removed. It's found to contain a compressed blob of 'pillow' foam, possibly from a leak repair.
An electricians 45 degree 'sweep' and new junction box are installed and the cord is easily pushed through by hand. The wires are connected and the junction- box end of the conduit sealed with 'Duct Seal' (electrician's putty).
(photo, right) In a show of faith, the pool light works.
Pool lights can be lit for about a minute before heat becomes a danger. Pool lights are water cooled and contain a low-water heat sensor that is designed to turn 'off' a hot light but an explosion of the fixture remains a possibility (and documented on the Pool School PRO CD).
We learn by our mistakes and in 28 years we've certainly made our share. But the difference between a pro and an amateur is how they recover from their mistakes. Our
And check out the Spa Light Installation in our Great American Pools
Related Light repairs like getting a stubborn fixture out of the wall, converting a 12 volt system to 120 volt GFI and adding a light are only three of the hundreds of problems a pool owner will face all presented on our
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