Fluorescent lighting is very dependable and efficient. In fact, it will work for many years with few problems. However, nothing lasts forever, and occasionally you may need to buy new bulbs and someday you may be in need of replacement sockets. Installing new sockets is not too difficult if you have basic knowledge of electricity. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you get the job done quickly and properly.
Checking the Bulb
In most cases, the bulb is the source of the problem and it is important to check it out. For example, a bad bulb may start to flicker a great deal and you may notice a blackening on the ends. This usually means you need to replace the bulb. If you are not sure, remove the bulb and check to see if there is power going to the socket contact points. It is also a good idea to clean the contacts after the bulb has been removed. Make sure there is no power going to the light fixture before attempting any repairs or replacements.
To ensure the problem is not your fluorescent bulb, try switching bulbs with another fixture. If it still does not work, check both the high and low side of the ballast for continuity. If you do not notice resistance from your ohm meter, you may need a new ballast. Also, look to see if there are any oil leaks, as this can indicate problems with your ballast.
If the ballast and bulb are good you should think about a new socket. For safety reasons (and to make it easier) you may wish to remove the entire fixture to replace the socket. This can be especially helpful if the fixture is very high off the ground. Most sockets (sometimes called tombstones because of their shapes) are not difficult to remove and replace.
You may need to remove some screws and perhaps a plate which covers the ballast. You can usually pop out the old socket once you remove the screws but be careful not to take it out too far until you have disconnected the wires running to the ballast. Most wires connect to the sockets by tension springs, so you may need to use a small tool or paperclip to depress the spring and loosen the wire from the tombstone. Installing replacement sockets is the reverse procedure for removing the old ones. Make sure to replace all the screws and tighten everything in place. Re-install the bulbs and then restore power to check the light.