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Scherer Electric Blog

Why You May Have Failed Light Fixtures


We’ve all experienced this annoyance before: we flip on a light switch as we step into the house, or into a dark room, and nothing happens. Sometimes, the light comes on for a second, then goes dark with a buzz sound—usually an indicator the bulb burned out.

But bulb burnout isn’t the only reason for a light failing to come on. When lights fail in your house, you can do some standard investigation to see what’s wrong. Check that the fixture is plugged in, put in a new bulb, see if a circuit breaker tripped. These are basic troubleshooting steps that don’t require calling an electrician.

But there may be a deeper electrical issue behind the failed light—you may have a failed light fixture, bad wiring, a broken switch. Don’t try to take out tools and see if you can make repairs for these problems! Yes, you can shut off the power to the fixture at the breaker to prevent a high voltage shock, but your amateur tampering with a fixture or a switch could create a fire hazard. Please leave any work on your indoor lighting in Orchard Park, NY to our licensed professionals.

What May Have Gone Wrong

There are several sources for a light fixture that won’t work. We’ve already gone through the simple ones. Now we’ll look at several that require calling electricians to repair:

  • Electrical shorts: A short occurs when electricity in a fixture finds a shorter path between wires, usually because of contact between a “hot” wire and a “neutral” wire. This causes a sudden surge in electricity that trips the breaker to prevent damage. If you turn a breaker back on and the problem happens again, you’re likely dealing with a short. These are potential fire hazards and require licensed electricians to repair.
  • Bad wiring: Wires may have come loose in the fixture, which is something that often happens if the fixture was poorly installed in the first place. (This is one of the many dangers of having amateurs do electrical work.) You may see warnings of loose wiring when lights flicker before they finally just go out. Don’t open up the fixture and tinker with the wires—leave that job to us.
  • Bad socket: The socket for a lightbulb can go bad, just like the bulb itself. A dirty socket or a flattened one will stop working. The best solution is to have the socket changed if this is a permanent light fixture. (If it’s a basic plug-in lamp, we recommend buying a new one.)
  • Bad outlet: If the fixture is plugged into a wall outlet, we recommend testing other appliances on the outlet to see if the outlet is the problem. Outlets can fail due to shorts as well, and older ones may need to be replaced—especially if they aren’t modern GFCI or grounded outlets. 

These are the most common possibilities, but not the only ones. When in doubt, call our licensed electricians. We’ll find the exact source of the problem and provide the best, safest solution.

Scherer Electric Is Western New York’s Favorite Electrician! Reach out to us to help when you’ve got light fixture troubles.

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