Last Updated: December 6, 2020

How to Change a Pool Light Bulb

Written By: Pool Care Guide

Here’s what you are going to need to change a pool light bulb:

  • New Pool Light Bulb
  • Dry Towels
  • Screwdrivers
  • (Recommended) Disposable Gloves
  • (Recommended) Multimeter
  • (Recommended) New Lens Gasket

Humans have a primal fear of the dark ocean depths. Even though its a bit silly, those mental circuits can get activated when the pool lights go out. Changing out that broken light bulb will restore that feeling of safety and make nighttime swimming more enjoyable for everyone. Maybe you want to switch to a brighter, more efficient, or colorful light bulb. Of course, getting electrocuted won’t be worth any of these benefits, so you must be careful to follow the proper procedures. 

First, you’re probably wondering if you need to drain the pool. The answer is no, but there are some precautions you must take to ensure your safety from electrical shocks and the safety of your pool equipment. The first of these precautions are...

DO NOT TOUCH THE HALOGEN LIGHT BULB

Sorry, I don’t like to use all caps. I just wanted to make sure that anyone skimming the page will see this before potentially damaging their new light bulb. When powered, halogen lights get very hot. Your greasy fingers will leave an oil residue that will shorten the lifespan of your light bulb. Use gloves or a towel when unpackaging and screwing in the new bulb.

It’s Expensive to Hire Pool Maintenance to Change a Lightbulb

You can always hire someone else to do the job. However, many pool services don’t offer the option to hire them to change your pool lightbulbs. It ultimately isn’t very profitable because of how common it is for pool light fixtures to leak. If the company warranties their work, changes the bulb and fixture, and it fails a month later, it will eat away almost all of the profit.

As the pool owner, hiring a company is certainly the safest and easiest option but is also expensive. It’s a simple job, but you can expect to pay between an extra $100 to $150 per light bulb in labor costs. That doesn’t work for most people. Whether by choice or necessity, some of us are more frugal than that and would rather change the bulb ourselves.

Step 1: Turn off the Electricity

Does cutting the power to the pool cut off power to something else that might trigger a housemate to turn the breaker back to its “on” setting. It might be a good idea to leave a note on the breaker box. Powered electrical wires and water should never mix. Cut the power, and do whatever you need to do to be absolutely sure that it doesn’t get flipped back on while you are working. 

Step 2: Remove the Light Fixture’s Screw from the Light

There is usually only one screw, and you’ll probably find it at the top-center portion of the fixture. It’s super easy to loose the screw. Use a magnetic screwdriver if you have one handy.

Step 3: Remove the Fixture

When the screw is out, you can take out the light fixture. Its power cord is usually long enough to let you place the fixture upon the edge of the pool. The walking path around the pool is usually a bit rough, so it might be a good idea to set the lens on a towel to prevent any potential scratches.

Step 4: Test the Wiring

This is just a safety precaution so that you don’t electrocute yourself. Every DIY homeowner should keep a multimeter on hand to prevent an untimely death. Test the current running through the wires before you touch them. If your multimeter picks anything up, then you haven’t turned off the electricity. 

Step 5: Take the Fixture Apart

Ideally, the light build is securely housed within its fixture. If everything is still in good working order, you will just need to replace the lightbulb.

Remove the screws or clamps, and pull the fixture pieces apart to reveal the light bulb inside.

If the fixture, clamps, and screws have been overcome by rust, you will most likely need to replace the fixture. The price can vary, but expect it to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200. Yeah, it’s expensive, but it is necessary.

Step 6: Remove the Old Light Bulb

Your hands are dry right? If not, grab a towel and dry up. Then you can unscrew the bulb before you clean and dry the fixture. 

Now, slowly screw in the new bulb. Be careful not to screw the bulb to tight. Many light bulbs have lost their lives this way.

Step 7: Reconstitute the Fixture

As a general rule, you should purchase a new lens gasket whenever you need to swap out a pool’s light bulb. They’re pretty cheap, about $10 to $20, and they will greatly increase the safety of the new bulb. 

Stretch the lens gasket onto the fixture to secure the lens and put the screws in or the clamps back on to secure the whole unit back together.

Step 8: Test the Light

It would be a shame to reinstall the fixture and find that the pool light doesn’t work. You should probably test it while you still have it on the pool deck. Turn the electricity back on for the test and then turn it off again quickly.

Quick Warning - Remember how we said that halogen lights get very hot? Pool lights use the water in the pool to keep themselves operational. Running a light outside of the pool can cause the light to burn itself out, so turn off the power as soon as you can.

Step 9: Check for Leaks

You turned off the power, right? It’s time to check for leaks. Submerge the fixture and hope for the best. Do you see any leaks or notice air bubbles coming out from inside the fixture? 

If yes, take everything back out, take the fixture apart, dry everything out, put it back together, and test it again.

Step 10: Reinstall the Fixture into the Pool Wall

If you don’t see any signs of a leak, fish the excess power cord back into the pool wall cavity, install the fixture back into the pool, turn on the power, and cross your fingers.

Step 11: Turn the Power Back On

Congratulations, you’ve replaced your bulb and saved some money! Now your pool is ready for you to take a night time swim without worrying about any creatures hiding in any dark corners.

Step 12: Dry Your Tools

Wait...before you hop into those refreshing waters. Use those towels to dry your tools. Even a little bit of moisture can do a fair amount of corrosive damage. Have you done it? Good, dad will be proud. Now, go enjoy your pool.

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