How to Remove a Broken Light Bulb from a Light Socket

Tips for Safely Removing a Broken Light Bulb from a Light Fixture

By Mark J. Donovan

So you’ve broken a light bulb that you were attempting to remove or install in a light socket. Now you’re wondering how to remove the broken light bulb from the light socket without electrocuting yourself. Well it is relatively easy to do, however I have to stress safety first. When attempting to remove a broken light bulb from a light socket it is imperative that you turn power off first to the light fixture at the main circuit breaker panel, if the light fixture is directly tied into the home’s electrical system (e.g. an overhead ceiling light).

Moreover, you need to confirm that power is indeed off at the light fixture before attempting to remove the broken light bulb.

You can do this by confirming other lights or appliances on the same circuit are indeed off when you turn the circuit breaker off that feeds the light fixture with the broken bulb. You can also use a digital volt meter to confirm there is no power to the light fixture / light socket.

Once you’ve confirmed power is off at the light socket with the broken bulb, now find a pair of safety glasses and put them on. If you have safety goggles, even better. Safety goggles are highly advised if you are removing a broken bulb in an overhead light socket. In addition, put on a pair of leather gloves as they’ll protect your hands from any broken glass, as well as provide another level of electrical insulation.

Now find a pair of small adjustable pliers, preferably with rubber handles. Use the pliers to break off any remaining glass in the light bulb. Make sure to have a bucket underneath the light bulb to catch any of the broken glass pieces. Do not look directly under the light bulb as you remove the shards of glass, even if you are wearing safety glasses or goggles.

Next, use the pliers to grab onto the metal lip of the broken light bulb and rotate it counterclockwise. Continue rotating the broken light bulb until it is removed from the light socket.

If you can’t get the nose of the pliers onto the metal lip of the broken light bulb, then with the pliers closed, mash the nose end of the pliers into the broken light bulb and rotate the broken bulb counterclockwise until it is removed from the light socket.

Now install a new light bulb into the light socket and turn power back on at the main circuit breaker panel.

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