If your light bulbs keep blowing out, do not fret! It doesn’t mean you have a major wiring fault. Incandescent bulbs have a lifespan of around 900 hours; based on a usage of eight hours a day, a bulb should last roughly about four months. If you replaced the bulbs recently and the lifespan doesn’t seem to be all that it should, the cause may be the fixture itself or other potential problems.
When a bulb blows, 99% of the time the fuse for the lighting circuit will blow or trip also. The reason for a blowing lamp tripping an MCB is that the lamp element gets thinner during its life to the point where it breaks at its thinnest point, this point will melt just before failure. The resistance of the overheating element will momentarily be very low and a current surge is caused, this is picked up by MCB’s but generally not your home’s fuses. Read on for the five most common reasons your light bulbs are blowing out – and how to avoid this nuisance.
1. You Bought Bad Bulbs
Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs the spiral-shaped energy savings bulbs that appeared a few years ago and work like a fluoro-tube. Not only are they notorious for going bad before their time but even though they are commonly touted to have a lifespan of about 10,000 hours, if you’ve owned some of these, you probably know that this number is grossly exaggerated. The elements in cheap bulbs are much thinner and any surge of power, however slight, simply breaks them. The answer is to switch to LED bulbs. LED bulbs use a development of light emitting diodes that were once found only in electronics like digital clock displays to product bright lighting with a fraction of the heat and cost compared to incandescent lights. They’re more efficient, they last longer, and they don’t contain mercury as CFL bulbs do. However, if your LED bulbs are still blowing, there is a chance there could be a loose or bad connection, too much current in the circuit, or degraded or damaged wiring.
“The elements in cheap bulbs are much thinner and any surge of power, however slight, simply breaks them.”
2. The Voltage in Your Home is Too High
The electrical power coming into the average American home is 110 to 120 volts. If the supplied voltage to your home is too great, bulbs will generally burn brighter and burn out much faster. You can test for voltage at a standard (120-volt) electrical outlet, using a multimeter or voltage tester; be sure you know how to do this safety because the power will be on. If a test reveals a voltage higher than 125 volts, have an electrician (like the ones at Frontline Electrical Services in Benicia, California) take a look at the problem. Buy 130-volt bulbs when you want to change your bulbs less often – they use a thicker filament that places less resistance on the current. This makes the current flower easier.
3. The Socket Tab in the Fixture is Depressed 🙁
The metal tab at the bottom of a light bulb socket is the “hot” connection that delivers electrical current to the bulb. If the socket gets pushed down too far, it can fail to make contact with the bulb. To alleviate this problem, unplug the lamp or turn off the power to the fixture, then use a wooden popsicle to bend the tab up about 1/8 inch.
4. The Bulbs are Loose
When a bulb is loose in the socket, it can flicker on and off. A loose connection in the lamp holder can also cause bulbs to blow. This is because the circuit is not completed as tightly as it could be and the electricity may have cause to “arc” or jump across the contact, rather than simply flowing through it. The same thing can happen if the spring-loaded connection in the bulb holder is slightly loose. When this happens, it produces more heat in the fitting than is expected or catered for by the bulb, and the bulb can blow. Simply tighten the bulb to correct the problem. Another issue may be a loose wire connection. Turn off the power and check the connection on the fixture. Contacts in the center of the socket can get worn or corroded and cause a lot of headaches. Replace the socket or the fixture. If you’ve ruled out a loose fitting or connection in your bulb holder, then have Frontline Electrical Services conduct a full check of the lighting circuit(s) and any other circuits with similar issues.
“A loose connection in the lamp holder can also cause bulbs to blow.”
5. Overheated or Burnt Bulb
Most fixtures have a label stating the maximum bulb wattage to use in the fixture. Open the fixture globe or cover and check to see if the bulb wattage is too large for the fixture. Using a bulb with a wattage that exceeds the maximum rating creates excessive heat, reducing the bulb life and potentially melting the insulation on the fixture wiring. An increase of 5% above the rated voltage of a light bulb reduces its life by 50%. Prevent problems by using the appropriate bulb wattage. Energy-efficient bulbs (such as LEDs) have much lower wattages than standard incandescent bulbs while producing an equivalent amount of light.
Ready for Your Home Energy Audit?
At Frontline Electrical Services we love helping our customers feel safe and secure in their homes. If you are in the Benicia or Fairfield, California area, contact us today at (800) 945-0268 (here is a map to us) to have your home’s wiring checked or to receive your free home energy consult where our techs analyze your electricity usage and give you the information you need to make sure your home is the most energy-efficient it can be! Remember, if it’s electrical, we do it!