How To Change A Lightbulb In A Shower Ceiling — 9 Easy Steps

Today, there are a lot of lighting gadgets that are so appealing to the eyes, you immediately imagine them improving the décor of your room. Regardless of the beautiful designs that light bulbs come in nowadays, they still have a greater purpose: illumination.

You need to see your way around a room at every point in time to avoid bumping into things or people. Having good lighting in your bathroom improves visibility, thereby reducing the risks of accidents. 

As a result, once the light bulb in your shower ceiling goes out, your first and best option is to get it fixed. Whether you call in an electrician to handle the fixing or you just do it yourself is entirely up to you.

Nowadays, with the help of the internet, guides like this one are available to enable you to carry out successful do-it-yourself projects. So, yes, you can change the bulb in your shower ceiling. This article will help you. Let’s get right to it.

How To Change A Lightbulb In A Shower Ceiling
Photo by Random Sky on Unsplash

How To Ensure Safety

“Safety first,” is our mantra at all times. It is a known truth that water does not mix with electricity to create anything desirable.

In the past, some people used to be scared of putting lights in the bathroom because of its humid condition.

Nowadays, however, technology has made it possible for everyone to enjoy improved visibility when in the shower or tub without fear of electrocution, provided the proper lighting system is selected and installed by a professional.

Please, do not carry out an entire lighting installation by yourself, except you are a professional. It is not just about light bulbs and switches. This is serious technical wiring, hardware stuff.

Let us look at the various options for proper lighting.

1. Recessed Light

Most of the lights installed in showers are recessed lights. These are lights that are installed directly into ceilings, walls, or other surfaces. When switched on, they give an effect of lights coming from a hole or holes in these surfaces as the lights sit flush with them. 

Because of the way they are designed to sit within the surface — in this, a ceiling — you can also install a cover for these lights. That is, if the lights do not come with such covers. Even if they do, you can always replace the covers if necessary. 

What ensures your safety with this lighting is that the fixtures usually come with waterproof light covers that have airtight rubber seals which prevent moisture from getting into the light receptacle.

TORCHSTAR 12-Pack Essential Series 12W 6 Inch Low Profile Ultra-Thin Recessed Ceiling Light with Junction Box, 5000K Daylight, Dimmable Can-Killer Downlight, 850lm 100W Eqv. ETL and Energy Star

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2. LED Lighting

LED lighting refers to light-emitting diodes, which are a low-voltage alternative to the old-style incandescent bulbs.

Low voltage bulbs are a lot safer than their higher voltage counterparts. This is because, if a discharged electrical current reaches you in the shower (the chances of this happening is infinitesimal), a high voltage current can lead to serious injuries or even death. However, a low voltage current is less likely to have such dire consequences.

Besides, LED bulbs have been known to last very long – ten years and upward. And they are just the bulbs to set the right ambiance in your bathroom as they come in a variety of colors for you to pick from.

LB72166 LED Flush Mount Ceiling Light, Oil Rubbed Bronze, 16-Inch, 23W, (120W Equivalent), 5000K Daylight, 1610 Lumens, ETL & DLC Listed, Energy Star, Dimmable

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What Is Needed?

Before you get started with replacing your shower’s light bulb, you need to have adequate supplies. These include the following:

1. A New Light Bulb

Do not get carried away with the preparations that you forget to take your new lights along to the bathroom.

2. A Step-Ladder

If you are not tall enough to reach the light bulb (which is most likely the case), a step-ladder will be adequate to carry out this installation.

If you do not have a step ladder, it is alright to get a pile of sturdy boxes or a step stool to help you.

Ensure, however, that the ladder — or whatever you intend to use to elevate yourself — will get you there safely and conveniently without you having to go on tiptoes. It is important not to put yourself in any hazardous situation. 

Little Giant 22-Foot Velocity Multi-Use Ladder, 300-Pound Duty Rating, 15422-001

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3. A Putty Knife

This will come in handy when you need to pry the fixture cover from the ceiling to access the light bulb holder. A pair of flathead pliers can also serve the same purpose as a putty knife here.

4. Duct Tape

This will serve as some kind of handle with which you can remove the old light bulb from the fixture.

5. A Rubber Mat

The bathroom floor is usually a very slippery surface, so, a rubber mat underneath your ladder, stool, or even underneath you, will prevent you from slipping.

How To Do The Changing?

With your tools ready, it’s time to get to change the light bulb.

1. Ensure The Bathroom Is Dry

Before you start doing anything about the light bulbs, first ensure that the bathroom is as dry as possible. After all, it is a known fact that electricity and water do not mix well.

2. Turn The Power Off

This is the next important thing to do. To be sure that there is no current flowing as you get ready to replace the light bulb, turn the light switch off

3. Secure Your Footing

Whether you decide to go up a ladder or decide to change the light bulb from the ground, please place a rubber mat beneath you to give you some form of traction to prevent you from slipping. This will also keep your ladder from sliding.

4. Get Some Elevation

Place your ladder or stool on the rubber mat to enable you easily reach the fixture.

5. Allow The Light Bulb Cool

You need to ensure the light bulb is cool before you touch it. If it was recently on, give about five minutes for a normal light bulb and twenty minutes for a halogen to get cool. 

6. Remove The Old Light Bulb

Due to the design of a recessed light, you will find it difficult to grab hold of and unscrew the light bulb with your hand, as is typical with some other popular lights.

So, there has to be another way of getting a grip on the light bulb to remove it. Let us consider the two methods below: 

Grip The Light Bulb With Duct Tape

  • Tear off a strip of duct tape half as long as your arm, or 12 inches long.
  • Fold over each end of the duct tape in such a way that there are two folded edges and a sticky segment in between.
  • You can instead decide to wrap the tape in a circle so that the adhesive will be on the outside. The circle should be large enough to fit your hand through.
  • Holding the two folded segments as handles, stick the duct tape to the flat surface of the bulb.
  • With the duct tape stuck to the bulb, you have enough leverage to get it unscrewed. Most lightbulbs use the standard screw threading. Therefore, it is safe to say that, at this point, you can go ahead to turn the lightbulb leftward to unscrew it from its holder. 
  • If the bulb budges, you should be able to grip the sides. So, pull off the duct tape and finish unscrewing the bulb by hand.

However, if the bulb didn’t budge when you attempted to unscrew it, follow the steps below to remove the retaining collar.

Remove The Retaining Collar

  • First, look for the metal collar around the bulb, as is common with many recessed light fixtures. You will have to be careful when removing the metal collar so as not to damage your ceiling.
  • Use the knife to cut the paint around the ring if it was painted over. This way, you will avoid ripping away pieces of the drywall when you attempt to unscrew the bulb.
  • At this point, look for a screw or a button. Different models have different mechanisms for freeing the fixture. While some collars are simply held by some screws, some others come with a small metal button that you can slide sideways to get the whole fixture loose. 
  • For some models, you can either twist or pull out the collar by hand. Do this by applying light pressure. Plus, consult the manual that came with the light bulb to get the appropriate direction.
  • For most recessed LED light systems, you can pull them directly from the ceiling. Be careful, however, so that the sharp metal clip that pops down from the edge doesn’t hurt your fingers. Then, unclip the bulb from the wire.
  • Most recessed halogen lights come with a plastic collar that has three tabs. In such cases, simply press your fingers gently against the tabs and then twist leftward. Once you have found a way to get to the bulb, get a grip on the base and the wire, and wiggle them apart. 
  • Some older halogen fixtures use a small, toothed, metal ring that has no special fastener. For such light fixtures, cautiously insert a flathead screwdriver or similar object between the light bulb and the metal ring, and pry them outward. Whatever you use, be extra careful so you don’t chip the glass with it. 

You will notice a gap in the ring. This will enable you to flex it outward so you can pull it down with your fingers. Then, holding the base of the bulb, remove it by gently wigging the prongs of the socket to remove it. 

  • If your bulb refuses to twist out and you cannot find any obvious fastener for the ring, it may be jammed. With some fingers from each hand, gently push the bulb. If it retreats farther into the ceiling, simply press those fingers against the two opposite sides of the ring, and rotate that metal ring at the same time pressing down to help improve your grip.

If that method doesn’t work and you find that your model is the one which has three tabs on the plastic collar, simply use a pair of pliers to grip one of the tabs. Push that tab with the pliers while you push another tap with your hand.

7. Fix In The New Bulb

With the old bulb removed, there is nothing left for you to do than to screw in the new bulb in much the same way as you unscrewed the old one. Then, stick on the duct tape and turn the bulb clockwise to secure its fit.

8. Test The New Bulb

Turn the light switch back on to confirm that your new bulb works perfectly.

How To Change A Lightbulb In A Shower Ceiling
Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

9. Cover Up The Recessed Light Fixture

With your new bulb working just fine, you can now place the light cover back on. But first, turn off the power to place the recessed light cover.

If your shower light fixture uses torsion springs, they will click into place once you press the cover into the ceiling.

Final Words

We have already stated the importance of choosing the right lighting system. However, to guarantee additional protection against electrical faults or mishaps, installing a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a good idea. 

A ground fault circuit interrupter — also known as a residual current device (RCD) — is a circuit breaker that tracks the flow of current in a given circuit and then shuts off the power immediately it senses any imbalance between the outgoing and incoming current. 

Let’s say an individual gets an electrical shock, the current flows from the circuit through his body to the ground. When this happens, the ground fault circuit interrupter will detect this loss of current and immediately deactivate the circuit, absolutely stopping the flow of electricity. This truly provides added protection, so, consider installing this circuit breaker in other home circuits as well. 

Also, make sure that the shower light remain moisture-free at all times. Although the light covers are waterproof, the lights can be exposed to moisture when you are not careful to properly replace the cover and airtight seal after changing a bulb. The improper installation of a new bulb can expose the fixture to water damage, and you, to electric shock.

We encourage you to change a light bulb in your shower ceiling by yourself. However, if you somehow do not trust yourself to carry it out properly or you experience a great deal of difficulty while at it, we suggest that you hire a professional to assist you. In all, properly following the guidelines we have provided you with in this article should get you to do a pretty good job.

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