Lighting Problems

Lighting Problems

Table of Contents

Lights Won’t Turn On
There are six common reasons that lights won’t turn on:

  1. You have a bad bulb. This is much more common than you would at first think. As your first step, replace your bulb with a new bulb. If this does not work, then try a bulb from a fixture that you know for sure works.
  2. The light switch is broken. You will need to replace the switch.
  3. Your fixture is broken. The best way to fix this is typically to replace the fixture. If you desire, however, most fixtures can be repaired.
  4. Power issues. Please read our Power Problems section.
  5. The time clock for your light is set incorrectly or has broken. Try resetting the time or replacing the time clock.
  6. If your light is turned on and off by a photo cell, adjust or replace the photo-cell.
  7. Mercury-Vapor, Fluorescent, or High-Pressure-Sodium Lights. This type of light fixture relies on an electrical ballast in order to provide power to their bulbs. If these lights hum loudly or exhibit an odor, you may need to replace the ballast.

Lights Won’t Turn Off

  1. Your switch is broken. Time to replace it.
  2. The time clock for this light is set incorrectly or broken. Reset your time clock. If this doesn’t work, replace the time clock.
  3. If your light utilizes a photo-cell, check to make sure that the photo-cell is functioning properly. If not, then replace the photo cell.

Blinking Lights
Blinking lights are commonly caused by one of two things:

  1. Broken photo-cell. Adjust your photo-cell.
  2. Many recessed light fixtures use a thermal cell to turn off lights when temperatures are too high. Try using a bulb with lower wattage to keep the temperature low.

Flickering Fluorescent Lights
Flickering Fluorescent lights are a result of these three reasons:

  1. If your bulb flickers only when it just turns on, it probably just needs to warm up. You will notice this especially on cold days. Just give the bulb time.
  2. Your bulbs are old. It is time to replace the bulbs.
  3. Your electrical ballast is old. It is time for it to be replaced.

Bulbs Burn Out Too Quickly
Please see below for the three most common reasons that bulbs burn out quickly:

  1. You are using a bulb with too high of a wattage. This is one of the most common reasons. The majority of glass-covered light fixtures have a maximum wattage rating of 60 watts per bulb. Many people will use 75 or 100-watt bulbs in these fixtures. As a result, the bulbs burn out very quickly. Make sure you always use the correct wattage in all light fixtures.
  2. Low quality bulbs. Always use name brand light bulbs.
  3. Unknown problems with fixtures. Although the light fixtures looks like it should operate just fine, and nobody can figure out what is wrong with it (including electricians), your bulbs still burn out quickly. If options 1 and 2 don’t fix the problem, replace the fixture. It’s a mystery.

Humming Lights
The main causes of humming lights are:

  1. Bad transformer or ballast. It is time for a replacement.
  2. There could be a conflict between a low-voltage light fixture and a low-voltage dimmer. This can be tough to fix, but try out several different dimmers to see if you can find one that works properly.

Lights Dimming
You will sometime experience lights that go dim for a brief period of time and then return to full brightness. This most often occurs whenever your lights are on the same circuit as an appliance that uses a high level of power. Because of this, the light will dim momentarily whenever the appliance turns on until electricity levels even out. This often happens, for example, when your central air-conditioning system turns on.

While this dimming is more noticeable in the evening and at night, it is also noticeable during the day. If having lights that dim momentarily bothers you, talk to an electrician about adding a new circuit that will be used just for the high-powered appliance.

NOTE: If the dimming problem is new, and you haven’t made any electrical changes within your home or office, it may be due to a loose wire. In this case, you should call a local electrician to come out and troubleshoot the problem for you.