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Light Bulb Issues: Symptoms & Diagnosis

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Home  /  General Electrical Questions  /  Light Bulb Issues: Symptoms & Diagnosis

Have you ever experienced light bulb issues? Bulbs can burn out prematurely, pop, or cause other issues which can be an inconvenience. Let’s look at some of the issues associated with the three common types of light bulbs found in homes, so you will know what the “symptoms” indicate.

CFL bulbs

Symptom: Light bulb failure

Diagnosis: Unfortunately, some bulbs are just defective, and that could be the answer to your problem. If you buy quality bulbs, you aren’t as likely to experience this. Installing a bulb in a fixture it isn’t rated for is one reason bulbs fail early. Check the packaging before you install; some bulbs are only meant for certain types of fixtures, indoors only, or should not be used with dimmers.

Symptom: Bulb wears out early

Diagnosis: CFL light bulbs can be sensitive to vibrations and impacts, as well as frequent on and off switching. If your fixture is in an area that may receive vibrations from a heavy door shutting, or in a frequently used area, an LED bulb may be a longer-lasting solution.

Symptom: Bulb is flickering or buzzing

Diagnosis: CFLs use a ballast to provide the starting voltage which illuminates the bulb. If the ballast doesn’t supply a steady amount of electricity, you’ll see flickering and possibly hear buzzing. Faulty or loose ballasts within the bulbs can cause this problem; change the bulb to see if you get the same result. If your fixture still flickers and buzzes with new bulbs, turn it off and call an electrician for repair.

Incandescent bulbs

Symptom: Bulb won’t light

Diagnosis: Check to see the bulb isn’t burned out and that it fits tightly in the socket. A loose connection can prevent these bulbs from lighting. If the problem isn’t solved with a new bulb or a snug connection, the fixture, cord, outlet, or switch could be defective.

Symptom: Bulb burns out quickly

Diagnosis: You could be using a bulb with inappropriate wattage for your fixture. Check the rating of your fixture and make sure to use only appropriately rated bulbs; bulbs of the wrong wattage can overheat and burn out quickly.

Symptom: Bulb is flickering

Diagnosis: A loose bulb can cause flickering. Vibrations from ceiling fans can cause incandescent bulbs to come loose and flicker, which is a common culprit. Corrosion on the bulb or in the connection could also be causing a flicker. If the problem isn’t corrected by checking the connection, the fixture, cord, outlet, or switch could be defective.

LED bulbs

Symptom: Bulb burns out early

Diagnosis: Some cheaper LED bulbs can’t disperse the heat they create quick enough, which can cause the bulbs to burn out early. The metal heat sinks on quality bulbs move heat away from the bulb.

Symptom: Bulb won’t work with a dimmer

Diagnosis: Alone, many LED bulbs won’t work with a standard dimmer. This is because their wattage is often lower than the required amount for the dimmer to dim the bulb. Look for LED bulbs with a dimmable LED driver, and use electronic dimmers rather than magnetic.

If you’re having issues your light bulb troubleshooting doesn’t fix, call Frye Electric. Our skilled technicians will perform a thorough diagnosis of your home’s electrical system to determine where the problem is and how to solve it.

 

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