A fluorescent bulb was improperly removed from its sockets. I am unable to turn the contact rings from the closed to the open position. I would be thankful for any advice.

fluorescent socket

  • I stick a bulb in pins at the contacts and rotate. Some tombstones will snap into position and feel like they will break before releasing. Wiggle both CW and back CCW and it should release even if the lamp is not totally square with the fixture.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 27, 2016 at 15:22
  • I just had exactly this problem. While attempting to remove the bulb, I experienced a large amount of friction while trying rotating, so instead I popped out the bulb. I didn't expect to end up in this situation. I used a voltmeter to verify the on/off state, and then used needle-nosed pliers to rotate the plastic 90° back in a controlled manner. In the process, a chunk of plastic broke off; maybe it was catching. My tip: when rotating the bulb back in, make sure both sockets stay flush against the bulb, otherwise the prongs might pop out, and you must repeat the process.
    – Ben Mares
    Nov 29, 2020 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


Those black pieces are meant to turn 360 degrees in any direction. You already have a key to turn them, in the form of a fluorescent tube. Keep the tube as close as possible to its proper position (i.e. don't try to do this at much of an angle). Turn off fixture power.

Worse come to worst, if you break the lampholder (aka tombstone) or if that type just annoys you (they annoy me), new lampholders are fairly standard, common and cheap. I typically pay 60 cents each for them and keep a bagful on hand. You can mix and match types though I prefer to keep "circular" types separate from "v" types. Height is also a factor, they come in 3 heights. Yours looks like a medium. You don't want a short but a long will probably suffice.

  • Thanks for your time and detailed advice, Wolf. The pins on the tube were bending too much, so I used the backs of two small wooden paint brushes to turn the contacts to open. Looks like I've saved a buck twenty for now.
    – Chris Bush
    Feb 28, 2016 at 11:27

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.