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How to Change a Pool Light Bulb

Almost all pools have at least one light inside them, to make swimming in the evening or night a safer and more fun experience. But just like with any other light bulb, pool lights are eventually going to burn out, and need replacing. 

Once you get the hang of it, replacing a pool light is not that difficult, and anyone can do it. However, there is still some risk involved when you are dealing with electricity and water, and things can go wrong. If you don’t feel comfortable, it’s always better to hire a professional to do it. 

But if you think you are okay to attempt it yourself, you need to figure out what kind of lightbulb your pool uses. Consider these three factors:

Type

There are three main types of pool lightbulb – incandescent, halogen, or LED. Most light fixtures are designed to only hold a single type of lightbulb, so you need to know which one to purchase. 

Voltage

Pool lights are either 12V or 120V. In certain areas, you are only allowed to use 12V lightbulbs in your pool. Find out what kind you need, and if you have the choice, what you prefer. 

Power

The power of a bulb is measured in watts and determines how bright the light will be. It’s important to remember that wattage is going to be different according to what type of bulb you have. It doesn’t really have a practical effect on how many watts your bulbs are, in terms of if the light will function or not, but it might be helpful to remember that greater wattage will cost more to run.

If you don’t know what kind of bulb you need, you can wait to see what type your old bulb is when you remove it (see step 6). Regardless, here are the instructions you need in order to safely change your own pool light bulb:

Turn off the electricity connected to the pool – VERY IMPORTANT

This step is crucial to ensuring that you and anyone that might potentially be in or near the pool stays safe. Do not start playing around with the light fixture until you have turned off the power that goes to the pool. Double-check that the power is off by attempting to turn the lights on (if you have more than one light, and the others are still working). 

Remove the screw from the top of the fixture

Most pool light fixtures are attached to the side of the pool with a single screw at the top of the fixture. Unscrew this. The type of screwdriver that you will need is going to depend on the type of light fixture that you have.

Remove the fixture from the pool wall

Once the screw is out, the light should slide out. This may require some maneuvering as it can be fit quite tightly into the pool wall. Usually prying it out with a flathead screwdriver works well (and if you needed a flathead screwdriver to unscrew the screw, then you already had one lying around).

Pull the light fixture out and onto the pool deck

Replacing the lightbulb is easier to do on the pool deck, than having to lean over the pool, or be in the pool itself. The light fixture should have a long cable attached to it, so you can place it in a convenient space to work. If at first, it is not coming out of the pool wall, give it a tug to loosen the cable. 

Take the fixture apart

Depending on what kind of light fixture you have, this will require slightly different actions. However you need to do it, you must remove the cover and the lens so that you can reach the lightbulb. This may require unscrewing the parts, or it may just mean prying the pieces apart. As you are disassembling the light, inspect each piece for damage.

Unscrew and dispose of your old bulb safely

Unscrew and get rid of the old bulb that you no longer need. Keep it long enough to make sure that you have the correct sized replacement. Dispose of the old bulb by wrapping it in some newspaper before you toss it so that it doesn’t shatter and drop shards of glass everywhere.

Using a towel, screw in the new lightbulb

It’s important to not directly touch a halogen lightbulb, as the natural oil from your fingers can damage the halogen, and cause it to burn out faster than normal. Screwing it in with a towel or other piece of cloth simply helps to protect the bulb. 

Turn the power on to check that the bulb is now working

Before you begin the process of putting the fixture back together, turn the power on, to make sure that the bulb lights up. If it does, you can turn the power off and continue with the next steps. If it doesn’t you still need to turn the power back off, so you can safely see what has gone wrong. Check all of the components of the fixture, and once you have finally got it working, you can move on. 

Reassemble the light fixture

Put the light back together in the reverse order that you took it apart. Use this as another opportunity to double-check that there is no damage to any of the light components (if there is, consider repairing or replacing the parts, no matter how minor).

Place the light back into the hole in the pool wall

Place the light firmly back into the hole. You don’t need to worry too much about the length of cable – as long as it is in the wall, it is fine. If you are concerned, you can wrap the cable around the base of the fixture neatly, to prevent it from getting tangled or damaged.

Replace the screw

Rescrew the screw on the top of the light fixture. Tighten it as much as possible, to prevent the fixture from getting loose at any point. 

Turn the power back on

Once everything is securely in place, turn the power for the pool back on. Your light should now be shining again, and you can enjoy your pool at any time of the day.

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