Easy Fixes for a Blown Light Bulb

June 30, 2015

Lighting technology has changed dramatically in the last decade with the widespread introduction of low-energy bulbs, but some common problems still have simple fixes.

Easy Fixes for a Blown Light Bulb

The bulb keeps blowing

Fit a quality replacement

The lifetime of a light bulb will be shortened by poor connections, overheating and rough handling. CFL and LED lights are replacing traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs because they have longer lives and use less power, so it's worth switching to these designs if you haven't done so already.

  • The main reason that bulbs blow is poor manufacture — paying more for bulbs of reputable brand will save you money in the long run.
  • Check that the bulbs you are using don't exceed the maximum wattage rating of the fixture. If this isn't stamped on to the fixture, use bulbs rated at 60 watts or less.
  • Make sure the bulb sits tight in its fitting — a loose bulb may cause electricity to arc across the contact, causing a blowout.
  • Clean the electrical contacts in the fixture. First, make absolutely sure that the power is off; turn off both the wall switch and the breaker that controls the lighting circuit within your breaker panel. Remove the bulb and rub the metal contacts on the light fixture with some sandpaper. The fixture may have a flexible metal contact at its base. Bend this up by 0.5 centimetres (1/4 inch) using your fingers or a flat-head screwdriver, so that it makes better contact with the bulb when it is inserted.
  • If the bulb won't sit tight in the fitting, the spring loading in the fitting may have failed; call an electrician to install a new one.
  • Use a clean tissue to handle halogen bulbs — grease deposits from your fingers on the glass can cause these bulbs to blow.
  • Avoid switching CFL bulbs on and off too frequently — this shortens their life. For the same reason, don't use CFL bulbs in light fixtures controlled by a motion sensor.
  • If you have a dimmer switch, check the packaging of the new bulb to ensure it is compatible — some CFL and LED bulbs are not.
  • A fixture in which bulbs blow repeatedly could indicate a more serious wiring problem — call an electrician to investigate.

Words to know

Incandescent bulbs: These "classic" bulbs produce light when a wire filament is heated by an electric current.

Halogen bulbs: These are a type of incandescent bulb that contains a small quantity of a halogen gas within the glass. They are longer-lasting and produce a brighter light than a classic bulb of the same size.

CFL bulbs: Compact fluorescent light bulbs are basically fluorescent tubes that have been made in the shape of a classic bulb. They last about five times as long as classic bulbs and use around one quarter of their power.

LED bulbs: These use an array of light-emitting diodes to produce light. They have very long lifespans (up to 100,000 hours) and use around 80 percent less energy than classic bulbs, but are expensive to buy.

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