Although replacing a fluorescent light bulb is essentially the same process as changing a standard light bulb, there are some differences that need to be pointed out. A fluorescent light bulb will need to be replaced when it starts to flicker, changes to a gray color or stops working altogether.
Step One - Turn Off the Electricity
Before you embark on any project that involves electricity, be sure to turn the power off at the circuit breaker in the main electric panel. Failure to do so may result in injury or death.
Step Two - Rule Out a Loose Connection
Take your ladder and carefully place it under the light bulb you are looking to change. Before you remove the old bulb, ensure that it has not become loose or does not have a poor connection that is causing the light to flicker or not work at all. If the light bulb does have a poor connection, carefully rotate the fluorescent light bulb a few degrees until it locks back into position. Turn the electricity back on to test whether or not the poor connection was the reason the light bulb was not working properly. If the bulb still does not work, remember to switch the electricity back off before replacing the bulb.
Step Three - Remove the Old Fluorescent Light Bulb
After ruling out a loose connection, proceed to remove the old bulb. The majority of fluorescent light bulbs are supplied with a plastic panel beneath the bulb which is known as a lens or a diffuser. This needs to be removed in order to release the bulb from the fitting. Gently push the panel upwards and tilt it slightly to release the fluorescent light bulb. Hold the bulb in one hand and slowly rotate it clockwise. Some light bulbs may vary slightly but the bulb will usually require a full quarter turn. Slowly slide the light bulb away from the socket until one end is released. Gently pull on the opposite side and this should release the other side. (Keep in mind that it is illegal in many places to discard fluorescent bulbs in the normal trash. Look up your area's regulations for information on how to properly dispose of fluorescent light bulbs.)
Step Four - Fit the New Fluorescent Light Bulb
Take your new bulb and hold it horizontally against the socket. Slowly rotate it clockwise until both prongs are in line with the small grooves inside the socket that accommodates the prongs. Slot the prongs inside the grooves of the fitting and turn the light bulb counterclockwise, rotating for just one-quarter turn. You should be able to hear the new fluorescent light bulb click into position at each end.
Step Five - Test Your New Bulb
You can now switch the main electricity supply back on to test that your new fluorescent light bulb is working. If the bulb is flickering you may have a loose connection. If this is the case turn the electricity supply back off and carefully turn the bulb several degrees until you have a better connection. If the light bulb does not work at all, gently remove it from the fitting and repeat step 4 as the prongs may not have been properly attached. If your fluorescent light bulb does still not work, remove it and take it back to the outlet you bought it from as they may have sold you a faulty bulb.