How to Fix Porch Lights

Porch lights.
What You'll Need
Tool belt
New fixture
Outdoor light bulbs

Porch lights present a challenge if they need to be fixed or replaced. They are usually placed in awkward to reach places, and the wiring can be hard to understand. Fortunately, it is something that you can do yourself by following these steps.

Step 1 - Prepare

The very first thing you need to do is to cut the power supply to the porch light. You also want to make sure you have a sturdy place to put the ladder. Having a friend nearby to steady the ladder is a good idea too. You may not have a hand free to keep it steady since you’ll need to reach to work with the fixture.

Step 2 - Remove the Old Fixture

Get up on the ladder until you can reach the fixture easily. Use your screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the glass in place on the fixture first. If the fixture is completely enclosed and just one single unit, then just remove the fixture altogether. Make sure you are holding the fixture with one hand and unscrewing it with the other. This will prevent the fixture from falling and shattering.

You may have to remove a pilot screw to get the base off and expose the electrical wire. Each fixture is different so just be mindful and look to see how the fixture is attached.

Step 3 - Attach New Fixture

This sounds much simpler than it is. You need to have balance and work with one hand the majority of the time, so don’t rush through this. Align the new fixture perfectly so it will line up with the existing screw holes. Most porch fixtures are made pretty universally, and you shouldn’t need to drill any extra holes for placement. If you are installing an unusual fixture then you may need to drill new holes.

Additional Information

Most light fixtures won’t require you to remove the actual wiring harness. In some cases this will be necessary though. If you need to remove the wiring harness you can simply attach the new one matching the colored wires together. White goes with white, black with black, and so on. After that you can install the fixture just as you would above.

If the light doesn’t work after the fixture and bulbs have been replaced, then it’s an issue with the wiring. Calling an experienced electrician is your best bet here. Even if your home has newer wiring, if it’s an older home the porch and other exterior lights are usually left out of electrical upgrades. Chances are you have pretty old wiring up there. The electrician can go ahead and upgrade the wiring at the same time as they troubleshoot the problem.

To make changing the light bulbs easier for fixtures that don’t have covered glass, you can purchase a special tool that is designed to reach and grab the bulb for you. You simply twist the handle to remove it. To place a new one you just need to place the new bulb in the end and twist the handle the opposite way.