Reasons Lights Burn Out or Don’t Work

Indianapolis Indiana White's Electrical lights lightbulb burned out

From time to time, we all encounter problems with the lights at our home or business. Maybe the lights flicker, or maybe they don’t turn on.

While it’s tempting for do-it-yourselfers to repair the problem themselves, we suggest home and business owners hire a licensed electrician to repair most electrical systems, as electrical systems cause more than 45,000 home-based fires a year, which result in an average of 420 deaths and 1,370 injuries, and multiple non-home-based fires, which result about 12 deaths per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. We don’t want your home or business to be included in these statistics.

Diagnosing common electrical problems with lights, however, doesn’t always take a licensed electrician, and some problems are easy to fix. Listed below are some common issues home and business owners face with lighting and likely causes for the problems.

The Lights Won’t Turn On

If the lights in your home or business won’t turn on and the outage is contained to a particular area of the building, the breaker might have been tripped. If the breaker has been tripped, all appliances and electrical receptacles in a specific area will be without power.

You can fix the problem by flipping back on the circuit breakers in the electrical box. Make sure you’re not overloading the circuit by demanding too much power from it. If you have too many appliances drawing power from one circuit, the breaker will trip again, cutting off power to the area.

If the lights in all areas of your home or business are off and no electrical equipment works, there may be a general power outage. Call your utility company in this case.

Lightbulbs Frequently Burn Out and Some Get Extra Bright

There are several reasons why lighting in a particular area of your home or business burn out frequently, and it may not simply be that you’re overusing them.

If only one lightbulb dies quickly, you don’t have to assume something is wrong with your electrical system — the individual bulb may have been flawed or a temporary surge may have burned it out. It’ when multiple bulbs go out in a circuit or the same bulb continually dies that the problem likely lies in the electrical system.

A loose connection in the lightbulb socket or in the circuit can cause lights to burn out because electricity isn’t flowing through the system as designed. Another cause for frequently burned out bulbs is a bad neutral connection. If electronic equipment besides lightbulbs is also dying, it may be a sign of a bad connection.

Lights Flicker and Dim

When lights flicker and dim, it may also signal that your circuit has a poor connection. Poor connections may lead to arching, a fire hazard where electricity jumps outside the proper electric channel.

Lights Flicker When Windy

If your lights flicker when it’s windy, the problem lies outside your house. The wiring in your weatherhead (the fitting where electric cables from the power line come into your home or business) has likely been frayed. If your experiencing this issue, contact your utility company. The problem is more than an annoyance — the frayed wiring can arch and start a fire or short your electric system and leave you without power.

Recessed Lights Sometimes Don’t Work

If your recessed lighting keep turning off, it may be a sign that they’re overheating. When designed properly, recessed lighting shuts off when it gets too hot to prevent fires. So if the lights are placed near insulation, they may turn off frequently because they heat they produce is trapped.

Other reasons recessed lights may overheat and automatically turn off are 1) the wrong bulb wattage is being used or 2) the wrong style of bulb is being used.