How to Remove Recessed Light Bulbs?

Recessed lights are awesome for a lot of different reasons – they are stylish, effective, efficient, and work great for homes with low ceilings. Their bulbs can be annoying to remove and change, however, as they are tricky to unscrew. That’s why LED bulbs are the most common choice for these light fixtures – to minimize the number of times you’ll need to fix them.

Still, eventually, you’ll have to do it, so – how to remove recessed light bulbs or their hoising? We’ll explore both questions below.

How to remove a light bulb from recessed socket?

As with most other fixes for annoying household problems, the answer here includes duct tape. Here are the few quick steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. Turn off the lights and wait for the light bulb to cool down until it’s not warm to the touch. Also, make sure that there really isn’t any electricity going to the light fixture – turn off the power breaker if you have to.
  2. Cut several inches of duct tape and fold it by its ends. You’ll need at least 5-6 inches but more can work as well. The idea here is to fold the two ends of the duct tape and stick them to each other so that you can grab the duct tape by its ends without it sticking to your fingers. You should only leave a small section of sticky tape in the middle – about an inch or a bit more – so that you can stick that to the recessed light bulb.
  3. Stick the duct tape to the light bulb while holding it by the “handles”. Press it nicely to make sure that it has attached to the bulb well enough.
  4. Twist the duct tape counterclockwise to unscrew the light bulb. Once you’ve unscrewed the bulb at least partly you should be able to remove it entirely by hand.
  5. Use the duct tape to properly screw in the new bulb.

How to remove old recessed light housing?

If the above method doesn’t work you’ll likely need to remove the light bulb’s housing. Or, maybe you just want to remove it cause its old – either way, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. As with the above method, turn off the lights and wait for them to cool off. Make sure there’s no electricity going to the light fixture.
  2. Check if there’s an inner metal ring to the fixture that holds the light bulb or if the large ring around the bulb is the only one.
  3. In either case, next, you’ll want to cut away any paint that might be painted over the rings. Removing the rings before that can rip pieces of drywall from the ceiling which would be unpleasant.
  4. Look for a screw or a button on the ring. Most modern recessed light fixtures have one or the other and in either case, you should be able to remove the light housing safely and easily.
  5. If there are neither screws nor buttons, test if the collar ring can be twisted counterclockwise or pulled out vertically. To pull it out you can try pushing the light bulb upwards a bit with a couple of fingers, then grabbing the insides of the housing ring with those same fingers and pulling it downwards.
  6. If all else fails, you can try to pry the housing out with a flat-head screwdriver. Many old halogen recessed fixtures are attached via small and toothed metal rings with no fasteners – just stick the head of the screwdriver between the ring and the bulb and pry outward. Be careful not to break the bulb and don’t stand directly underneath it just in case.


Blogger, editor, developer who loves green living. Interested in photovoltaics and solar lighting. Reviewing solar products since 2013.

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