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Handyman: light bulbs keep going out

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rubyw
Crozet, VA

March 18, 2006
9:16 AM

Post #2120439

I am hoping that someone can help me figure out what my problem might be and how to solve it. Last summer I had a new light fixture installed outside my main entry door. The past month or so I have replaced the light bulb about 5 times. The new bulbs are lasting anywhere from a day or so, to a week or so. Does anyone have any idea what might be happening and what needs to be done? Thank you all in advance.

Ruby
defoecat
Pleasureville, KY
(Zone 6a)

March 19, 2006
3:02 AM

Post #2122277

If you saved the packaging for the new fixture, check the wattage requirements on it. It may be that you are using a higher watt bulb than is recommended.
rubyw
Crozet, VA

March 21, 2006
6:48 AM

Post #2127157

Thank you defoecat. The fixture itself says that up to a 100 watts can be used. As I researched a bit more, I realized that the problem might be the result of a banging door located right beside the light fixture. My husband bought a special light bulb that is made to withstand jarrings. It has been in for about three days now, so we will see if that is what the problems is. Again, thank you for your suggestion.

Ruby
rubyw
Crozet, VA

April 1, 2006
5:37 PM

Post #2155485

Been another couple of weeks and this bulb has not blown - knock on wood. The slamming of the door was evidently knocking the connections loose or something. Just wanted to report in case someone else is experiencing this problem.

Ruby
ppocket
Bexley, OH
(Zone 5b)

May 22, 2007
5:19 AM

Post #3522504


I have had the identical experience w/ TWO new fixtures (which were actually pretty high-end, which one might expect to mean well-constructed) which we mounted securely on either side of our front door. The house is a solid, brick and stucco tudor, so it seems unlikely that jarring could be the cause of our burn-outs... I have pretty much settled on the following explanation: these glass-and-metal fixtures are composed of several pieces, joined at most places with rubber gaskets, which tend to slip slightly when the whole thing is assembled and, I think, let water or moisture in, which shorts out the bulbs. It is only when I study the joints carefully that I notice slight imperfections in how they come together, and I can drive myself half-crazy trying to ensure that they are sealed properly once I replace the bulbs. It is enormously frustrating!! I now only put a single bulb in each at a time, and often alternate using them to minimize the fuss. I am not 100% certain, but my hypothesis seems to coincide w/ wet weather, e.g... I'll watch and see whether jarring could be our problem.

Those #*@%$ bulbs are expensive(!), not to mention the accompanying frustration and tedium of having to change them repeatedly. Heaven knows none of us have anything ELSE to do! Thanks for the info. Let me know what you've found!

PotEmUp

PotEmUp
Fremont, CA
(Zone 9a)

May 28, 2007
11:29 PM

Post #3546328

They just don't make them the way they used to. A local firehouse has a bulb that has been in operation for at least100 years. http://www.snopes.com/science/lightbulb.asp

P.S. The website is a really good one to check out those "too good to be true" stories you hear.

Gitagal

Gitagal
Baltimore, MD
(Zone 7a)

July 14, 2007
12:58 AM

Post #3733477

This is a bit off-topic re the above, but it is a bit of useful information that not too many people know. It has to do with light bulbs.

You know those "flame" bulbs that go into chandeliers? Some of them have the "flame tip" (slightly curved) and some do not.
In your lighting fixture, if the bulbs are facing "up", you need to (can) use the curved-tipped ones. If the bulbs face down, you should use the regular, rounded tipped ones. A 76 yr. old man that works in Electrical at my HD told me that.

When I first bought my new DR light (bulbs facing down), I put in all the curved-tipped bulbs (they are cheaper) and I think I replaced about 3-4 of them the first month. Good to know...

Just a tid-bit--- FYI!

Gita
rubyw
Crozet, VA

July 15, 2007
1:49 PM

Post #3738174

Thanks for sharing Gita. I hope that you are doing well and getting geared up for the Plant Swap in September.

Ruby
lacewing121
Highland, IN

August 31, 2007
7:46 AM

Post #3920658

I'm having similar problems, only all over my house. If it were one place, I'd be able to figure out the variables for the problem. The most prominent fixture is not overloaded that I know of. (It said up to 100 watts on the lamp's package)
The only place I don't have this problem is in my computer room, where I use a different kind of bulb. For some reason my incandescents and the compact fluorescents seem to die much quicker than they did in my old house. Yet, the only bulbs that survive for what you'd expect (I've lived here for a year and I've already replaced all the light bulbs at least 7 times) yet my old school fluorescents in the garage and the "natural light" lamp I have seem ok. Everything else burns out quickly.
rubyw
Crozet, VA

August 31, 2007
11:34 AM

Post #3920885

Hmmm... might be time to change the bulbs that you are using, to the ones that are working well for you. It must be really frustrating. I hope that you will find a solution soon.

Ruby
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

August 31, 2007
2:11 PM

Post #3921449

Is your house older? If it is I might worry that there's something wrong overall with your electrical system. I guess that's a possibility even if it's a newer house, but it's less likely then. Personally I would probably have an electrician come out and take a look.
rubyw
Crozet, VA

August 31, 2007
4:39 PM

Post #3922024

Not a bad idea to have an electrician take a peek. That would at least put a person's mind at ease about it being unsafe. Thank Ecrane.

Ruby
lacewing121
Highland, IN

September 4, 2007
9:56 PM

Post #3937192

I was just discussing an electrician with the husband. We are going to get an electrician anyway, because we have polarized plugs that turn off with the switch on the wall...in *every* room. This means that ALL the bottom outlets turn off when you use a light switch. This was problematic when our tivo and satelite dish were hooked up to the bottom plug! On top of that, the light switch is paired with the front door switch, and it's easy to flip the wrong switch. The third problem is we can't find the circuit breaker for the exterior garage lights. This is puzzling, as they are usually isolated in most wiring plans I'm familiar with. It was plan built by a developer, so it's doubly odd. Maybe those lights were added on by an amateur, who didn't put in a breaker for them? Now *that's* a scary thought!

My previous house was built in the 1950's but the electricity was in good shape, so it's my benchmark for comparison. My new house was built in 1979, plus an addition was added in the early to mid 1980's. The breaker box is new enough that I doubt it's causing problems, but I still think there's something there for an expert to explore.

About using cheap lightbulbs... I tend not to. My husband, ever the penny wise type, tends to get the cheapies. I haven't seen a difference, per-se between the two types in terms of life in this house.
That's part of what prompted this post... I noticed one of my NICE bulbs (one of those long life jobs that's supposed to last a year or more) dying in about two months. I've had them last at least three times that long in my old house... even when on all the time.

I was wondering if there were more power surges in this area than where I used to live. The area I used to live in had very modern substations and methods for turning the power on and off in individual homes. Here, the stations are older and they need two days to turn your power back on. Also, we seem to have more outages here in general. Since they are both in the mid-west, with similar climate factors, I don't think it's a weather related problem.

Heck, we even had a computer die due to a power surge... despite the fact it was in a surge protector.
Killed that unit of the strip, too. My only argument against this would be that they don't always die at the same time... But sometimes we'll have a few go at once.

Thank you all for your imput.

Vanessa

PS. Once we talk to the professional, I'll let you know how it turned out. Thanks!
Bubba_MoCity
Missouri City, TX

September 4, 2007
10:06 PM

Post #3937217

Beware of a lot of surge protectors. Some offer protectiononce, then allow full line power through after the protection circuitry is fried. I use separate UPS protection for each computer, and the surge protectors I buy for TV's, refigerator, etc. all DIE completely - no reset, no "after-life". Haven't lost a major appliance in years, but have replaced a few "protectors".

One more thing - tech who built several computers for me, told me that the only machines he ever had to rebuild were fried by the surge coming on on the phone line to the internal modem. Mine are all on an external DSL modem and separate router - two other points of failure before the computer.
2zeus

(Zone 7b)

October 4, 2007
5:47 PM

Post #4048552

lacewing, you should be able to find out if the addition wiring, etc, has been passed by a building inspector at the time it was constructed. I asked my DH (who is in construction, and knows something about wiring,) and he said it sounds like something you need to get checked out by an electrician, as that is NOT normal, and having the outlets attached to the light switch would make him very nervous, as would not being able to find a breaker for the garage lights. Good luck!

darius

darius
So.App.Mtns.
United States
(Zone 5b)

December 7, 2007
8:03 PM

Post #4272123

The amount of tungsten applied to the element during manufacturing of incandescent bulbs determines (generally) the life of the bulb. It's cheap to cut down on tungsten but not usually reflected in the price of bulbs.

Just one cause of early demise!
rubyw
Crozet, VA

December 7, 2007
11:11 PM

Post #4272615

Hi Darius. We finally figured out what was happening to make our outside porch light go out so often. It was totally contributed to a teenager coming and going and slamming the door each time that he came or went. As soon as we mentioned for him to stop slamming the door, there hasn't been a shot bulb since. Amazing, huh? DUH!! on us.

The light fixture is only about a foot or so from the door, so it would jar quite a lot during a slam and thus shoot the element in the bulb. I am really glad that we figured that one out. I hope others having problems will find simple solutions too.

Ruby

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