Saturday, March 17, 2012

Changing a Pool/Spa Light

Changing a Pool/Spa Light

Wine Country Pools & Supplies is not responsible for any damage caused from the use of this guide. If you are unsure hire a professional.
Written by The following is a guide on how to change an Amerlite (sometimes called an American Product light) bulb or any light bulb of the Amerlite family. If you have a Hayward or any other brand, do not use this guide to change your light. The Amerlite lights are very common and can be easily identified by the unique design around the metal frame of the light. (Picture by Pentair Pool Products)

What you will need:
A light seal/gasket (see pic)
A light bulb (see pic)
A medium size Phillips head screwdriver
Medium size flat head screwdriver
Two open end ratchets
A second person to help at the end (optional)

Getting started:
Turn off the breaker(s) for all of the pool and spa lights. If you are unsure which breaker, then turn off all breakers for the pool equipment.

Removing the light from the pool or spa:
Most of the lights that are in the pool can be removed without draining it. This will require someone to lay next to the pool and reach down in to the water.  There is a single phillips head screw directly on the top of the metal frame holding the light in to its position.

Note: This is a special screw that is made to resist rusting under pool water conditions. Do not lose this screw!

Reach into the pool and unscrew this single screw. Then, pull the light straight out and away from the pool.

The light will float to the top of the water once released.

The cord connected to the light should be long enough to pull the light onto the deck of the pool to work on the light fixture.

Now if the light is in the spa, the spa will need to be drained to access the light 
Once the spa is drained removed the single screw at the top of the light frame. This is a special screw that is made to resist rusting under pool water conditions so be sure not to lose this screw! Pull the light straight out and away from the spa wall. 

Opening the light fixture casing:
Note: Take note of the bolt before removing the nut. You will want to screw the nut back on to about this same amount when resealing the light fixture.

Place the light glass down. The light is held together with a bolt holding a “Uni-Tension Wire Clamp” around the light frame. Using the two open end ratchets, unscrew the nut holding this bolt together and then pull the wire clamp completely off.

Note: We change around 3-5 pool lights a month. We use one ratchet instead of two and a power screwdriver with a hex head end because we have to work on so many lights.

Now the rear casing and the front metal frame can be pulled apart.
If they are stuck to each other, use a flat head screwdriver to pry them apart (see picture).

Changing the light and the seal:
Unscrew the light bulb.

Note: There is a wax substance that can be seen around the bulb socket. If this area is damaged, the light will need to be replaced.

Screw in the new light bulb. The two most common bulbs are the 300 and 500 watt bulbs.

Note: If this is a spa and your bulb does not look like the bulbs above see this addendum 

Checking if the bulb works:
Now is the time to test the light. A word of caution, these are high wattage bulbs that are water cooled.
What you want to do is turn on the breakers, turn on the pool/spa light switch, and quickly check that the light is on. Do not leave the light on for more than a minute.

If the light does not come on:
1) Check to see that you have used the new bulb
2) Make sure that all breakers have been turned on.
3) There is usually a GFI connected to the pool/spa lights. It is commonly found near the pool equipment and is part of a dual plug in socket. Check that this GFI has not been tripped and responds to a reset/test (see picture).
4) It is possible that the new bulb is bad. Do not test this bulb on a house lamp as most home appliances are not made to handle a 300+ watt bulb. Try to replace the bulb with a different bulb if you suspect this is the problem.
5) The light fixture unit will at times break. If the bulb is good and power is going to the light then the entire light fixture will need to be replaced.

The lens and lens seal:
It is not recommended to use the old seal/gasket that is around the lens. The old seal has been pressed into a specific shape by being clamped down over time and could easily leak if reused.

To remove the old seal/gasket, pull the seal off starting from any side (see picture).

Clean the lens by wiping it down with a clean towel before attaching the new seal/gasket.
The new seal will stretch and fit around the lens. There is no seal front and back sides.
Resealing the light fixture: (all of these have pics that go with them)
This next step is what most will find the most difficult.
1) Place the metal frame face down.
2) Place the lens (with the new seal/gasket already on) in the middle of the metal frame.
3) The back half of the light (with the cord attached) is now set directly over and on the rubber seal.

Note: Because the lens has a curved front face, it helps to have something sit under metal frame (and not push on the lens) so the lens can sit all the way down.

4) Now the metal wire clamp is set in place. It is crucial that the clamp holds in every hook to prevent leaks.

Note: When installing the clamp, make sure that the tightening bolt ends are nowhere near the top of the light where the main screw will hold the light in place. This bolt can block the single screw from going through to hold the light in position.

5) Pulling the two ends of the clamp together and insert and screw on the bolt. This is where having more than one person helps.

Note: The clamp will try to twist as you tighten the bolt. This is normal but you do want to resist its twisting as much as possible.

It is difficult to say how much to tighten this nut. Having made note of its original position before opening the light greatly helps.

Reinstalling the light fixture:
The light can now be inserted into the wall. It helps to coil the extra cord around the back end of the light.

There is a small “lip” on the bottom of the opening that holds the bottom half of the light fixture in. (I’ll try to find a drawing of this.)
Place the bottom half of the light into the opening first to grab onto the lip. Then, push the top half in.
Screw in the single top screw to hold the light in position.

If you are having problems getting the screw in place, it helps to use something long and skinner then the screw to try and line up the light fixture screw hole to the screw hole in the wall.
In extreme cases, you can get into the pool to get a better view to line the two up.

Once the light is back into position, (refill is this was a spa) turn the breakers back on and the light is ready for use. 


  1. Very useful guide and blog for DIY and professional constructors such as
    concrete patios san bernardino

  2. Thanks for this article, I can now managed my pool on my own. I will also study on how to repair those equipment that I've use on my pool.

    Pool Equipment Repair