Install a Chandelier and Dimmer Switch

danny lipford; test dimmer switch
Spruce up any room in your home by replacing an old light fixture. Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Danny Lipford gives his tips for installing a new light fixture and dimmer switch.

Add Glamour to a Room

Replacing an old light fixture with a new chandelier can really improve the look of a room. Adding a dimmer switch to it will allow you to control the level of lighting. Neither project is that difficult as long as you take the proper safety precautions and have a little basic knowledge about wiring.

Here are the tools you'll need:

-- Stepladder
-- Screwdriver
-- Insulated lineman's pliers
-- Wire stripper
-- Voltage tester

Turn Off Power

Start by turning on the light fixture and flipping off the circuit breaker that controls it to turn off the power. As a precaution, put a piece of tape over the breaker to keep it from accidentally being turned back on while you're working on it. Don't rely on the wall switch to cut the power to the light because the hot wire may be located at the fixture rather than at the switch.

Remove Old Light Fixture

With the power turned off, loosen the screws that hold the globe to the old light fixture and remove it. Unscrew the light bulbs in the fixture and set them aside.

Remove Base of Old Fixture

Remove the screws that secure the light fixture to the electrical box. Unscrew the wire nuts that attach the wires, and use the voltage tester to make sure the power is off. Disconnect the wires and remove the ceiling fixture.

Assemble Chandelier

Unpack the chandelier and assemble it. Read and follow any instructions regarding assembly and installation.

Determine Hang Distance

Start by measuring the distance to the ceiling to determine how high the chandelier should hang:

-- When installed over a dining table with an 8-foot ceiling, leave 30 inches of clearance between the table and fixture.
-- For taller ceilings, add an additional 3 inches of space for every foot increase in ceiling height.
-- When hanging a chandelier in an entry hall or other open space, allow 6-1/2 feet or more between the bottom of the light fixture and floor.

Cut Chain

Cut the chandelier's chain to the proper length, leaving the electrical wires about 6 inches longer to make the connections.

Place Wires

Run the wires and chain through the chandelier's trim ring, and strip 1/2 inch from the electrical wires using the wire stripper.

Mount the Support Plate

Mount the center support plate and wiring tube to the electrical box. Run the chandelier's wire up through the hollow tube, into the box, and back down again.

Connect Wires from Ceiling to Fixture

Attach the white electrical supply line to the white wire from the light fixture using wire nuts (screw in clockwise direction). Repeat the procedure with the black wires. Attach the ground wires together and to the electrical box at the grounding screw.

Install Trim Ring

Push the wires into the electrical box and slide the trim ring up against the ceiling. Use a locknut to hold the trim ring in place. Attach the chain to the ceiling hook.

Install Dimmer Switch

To add a dimmer switch to control the light, remove the cover from the wall switch and use the voltage tester to be sure the wires are not hot. Unscrew the old switch and disconnect the wires. Check to make sure the dimmer has enough capacity to handle the light fixture by adding the combined wattage of the bulbs. This should be equal to or less than the rated capacity of the dimmer.

Attach Wires to Dimmer Switch

Attach the wires to the switch using wire nuts as indicated in the instructions that came with the dimmer.

Replace Wires

Carefully push the wires back into the electrical box.

Test the Switch

Screw the dimmer in place, then attach the cover plate. Turn the power back on, and test to make sure the fixture and dimmer are working properly.

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