Why Do My Light Bulbs Keep Burning Out?

All light bulbs burn out eventually, but many homeowners will likely have to deal with a common and frustrating problem of having one or more light bulbs that continually burn out—for seemingly no reason.

Flickering or dimming of all your lights might be indicative of a sudden power surge (learn more about why people experience frequent power surges), or an issue with the electrical grid itself (say in the aftermath of a storm), but if you’re regularly experiencing light bulbs burning out, it might be caused by a more serious electrical problem.

Most incandescent light bulbs will last about 900-1000 hours, and LED light bulbs will last much longer—up to 25,000 hours. Regardless of your light bulb type,

if you have to replace them far more frequently than normal, it’s good to do some troubleshooting and see what the problem might be.

1. Too High Voltage

If you notice that burned-out light bulbs are happening all over your home, it might be because the electrical current in your system is fluctuating too much.

Possibly the most dangerous reason why you have light bulbs burning out is if your voltage is too high for your home’s electrical system.

This is the type of problem that will require a licensed electrician, because too-high voltage can be a serious electrical fire hazard.

2. Wrong Light Bulb Type

You might simply have put the wrong type of light bulb into a fixture. If a lamp or light fixture is rated for 80 watts, then using a 120 watt light bulb will cause excessive heat.

This will shorten the life of the light bulb, not to mention the excess heat can pose a fire hazard. Your bulb’s wattage can be a lower wattage than the fixture recommends, but never higher.

Always make sure that the wattage of your light bulbs doesn’t exceed the light fixture’s recommendation.

Light Emitting Diode or LED light bulbs burn far less energy than incandescent bulbs (not to mention, they burn brighter), so swapping out the types will help you save money and energy, too.

3. Faulty Light Fixture

It’s possible that the issue lies with the light fixture, not the light bulb. Older dimmer switches, for example, were made to be compatible with incandescent bulbs, and can damage the circuitry in LED bulbs.

If there isn’t a proper fixture to bulb connection, the light bulb might be experiencing intermittent power. A new dimmer switch might be the solution.

If you have older models of recessed light fixtures (or “can lights”) that are installed in the ceiling, the fixtures might not be designed to be in contact with your home’s insulation and will overheat.

If you’re noticing light bulbs keep burning out in your recessed lighting fixtures, check to see how old they are.

The best solution here is to install newer model recessed light fixtures that are “IC-rated” and don’t pose a risk of creating too much heat and potentially starting a fire. Contact a trusted electrician to help you with your home lighting installation.

4. Loose Wiring

If your light bulbs keep burning out too fast, a loose wire connection between your home’s electrical circuit and your light fixtures might cause.

Loose wire connections in your fixture’s wiring will mean intermittent power to the light bulb, which is essentially like turning the light switch on and off repeatedly.

You can disconnect the power to the fixture or appliance and check to ensure that there are no loose connections in the wiring. If the problem persists, it might be an issue with the socket contacts, and the socket or fixture should be fixed or replaced.

5. Excessive Vibration

If there is too much movement or jarring from light fixtures such as garage door openers, ceilings fans, or other fixtures that cause vibration, light bulbs can burn out quicker due to broken filaments.

A CFL bulb is especially prone to this issue. The best way to fix this issue is to make sure the light fixture is secure, and switch to an LED bulb (which doesn’t have a filament), or “rough service” incandescent bulbs, which are made to withstand vibrations.

6. Loose Bulb Connection

A light bulb that hasn’t been fully screwed in, or otherwise has a loose connection, will burn out more quickly because of the intermittent voltage. Flickering lights are a good indication that a connection is loose, so double check that the light bulb is properly seated.

That being said, a light bulb that’s been screwed tightly might also damage the socket tab, which is a small metal tab at the bottom of the socket that carries power to the light bulb.

Make sure there’s enough solder on the base of the light bulb, too, because that’s the part that makes contact with the socket tab. If there isn’t enough, then it’s the wrong kind of bulb that doesn’t have enough contact points to work with the fixture.

7. Short Circuits

Your light bulb might not actually be burned out—it might not have enough power to the circuit. If a light bulb isn’t turning on, you should check your circuit breaker to see if it’s been tripped. When the breaker is tripped, the switch will be in the off position while the others remain on. Flipping this switch back to the on position should restore power to the light fixture.

A short circuit isn’t always dangerous, but it shouldn’t be a frequent occurrence. If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, this might indicate a larger problem with your electrical system.

8. Poor Insulation or Circulation

Light bulbs are rated to work within a certain temperature range. If you have a ceiling light bulb quickly burn out, you might not have enough insulation in your attic or roofspace, and cold temperatures might be affecting the bulb life.

On the other hand, if your home doesn’t have proper air circulation, heat can build up in the summer months and create overheating.

We’ll Ensure Your Electrical System is Safe

If you think it might be time to get your electrical system checked out, contact Sun Electrical. Our professional electricians perform expert electrical inspections for Calgary area homeowners.

Here’s why Mark & Lori gives us a 5-star Google Review:

Recently we had the pleasure to have Sun Solar into our home to add some electrical for our new video doorbell. They came prepared with all the materials necessary to complete the work in one visit. They did a very professional job and totally cleaned up afterwards. They even vacuumed the floor so there was no hassles after. We are very pleased and happy. Will definitely recommend and use again if needed.

We look forward to providing you with the same great level of electrical service!

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