Home Light Bulbs

Thread Starter


Joined Apr 5, 2006
Ok, I know this is a marginal EE question, but... here goes....

The question is... why are my light bulbs blowing out frequently?

I just moved into a new house and I'm blowing light bulbs alot. Specifically, in some (not all) lamp outlets, regular incandescent bulbs blow in a matter of several weeks. This includes fixtures that are installed... like overhead fixtures, and lamps, like table top lamps.

The thing that is most puzzling is, I have lamps in front of the house, porch, garage, etc., and I replaced them with those 'twirly-looking' flourescent bulbs you can get from Lowes... they are the same general size as an incandescent bulb. Two of the three bulbs went out within two weeks. The third one has been going now for three months.

Since houses don't have surge protectors or voltage regulators... not much I can do. Just wondering if anyone has had similar experiences?



Joined Apr 20, 2004

You probably want to talk to your utility company. I sounds like your line voltage is pretty high. Lamps are marginal critters at best, and a bit too much voltage will fry them quickly. No experience with the flourescents, though. High line voltage is easy to find with a meter, but it takes the utility to correct it.


Joined Jan 28, 2005
It is my belief that incandescent lightbulbs are susceptible to handling. For this reason I avoid touching the glass with my hands during installation. I even clean them with water and a small amount of liquid soap before I use them. My thinking is that the integrity of the vacuum inside the bulb is critical to the reliability of the bulb over time. Even a small amount of contaminating air inside the bulb is enough to compromise the filament and cause it to fail.

By handling the bulb directly there is a small amount of skin oil that is deposited on the surface of the bulb. This skin oil by itself is not a serious threat. It is only when the bulb is turned on that the heat of the bulb activates the oil and it begins to gradually etch the glass that the damage is done. The speed of the etching process is a function of the amount of contamination that was deposited and the amount of heat generated by the bulb. I think that is why there is a specific warning never to handle those 300W small tubular halogen lights during installation as they get extremely hot when lit and thus they are more susceptible to this etching process. They even provide a small piece of material to use in handling the bulb during the installation.

I have gone to the trouble of marking light bulbs on the metal portion with the date they were installed to see if there was a correlation between touched bulbs versus untouched bulbs. I have found a significant increase in the lifespan of those bulbs that I did not touch during the installation.

It is generally true that the higher the wattage of the bulb used the more rapidly they fail when touched directly by hand during installation.

Once you stop laughing give it a try.


Erin G.

Joined Mar 3, 2005
I agree with beenthere about calling in some pros to look at the problem. However, if I understand this correctly, some bulbs are fine while others in particular fixtures tend to blow? If this is true, the problem may be the individual fixtures. I moved into a new house about six months ago and within a month we blew every light bulb, a computer and a TV. As an experienced electrician, I grabbed my Fluke 87V and checked voltage and frequency on every circuit, and I couldn't find anything wrong. It wasn't until I started turning off breakers and opening up the individual light fixture mounts and receptacles that I found the shoddy workmanship that turned out to be the culprit. Loose and improper connections were everywhere and it took the better part of ten hours to go through the rest of the house a fix it all.

Call your local electric company first, because it's free, but be prepared to have to look further.