The bulb in one of the ceiling fans blew yesterday (kind of went out with a whimper actually) and when I pulled off the globe today to change it the inside of the bulb looked charred. Prior to that the lights on the first floor were flickering - all of them, on at least 2 different circuits.
Could the two be related, and if so - whats exactly is going on to cause both instances? I've done a little reading into the flickering and from what i can gather there is something loose or arcing somewhere along the line which is causing the flickering. The blackened bulb I've never seen though and searching for 'black light' on google doesnt do much =p
It is not unusual for the inside of the bulb to be blackened.
More importantly, and probably with more difficulty, you need to find a loose connection. If any (incandescent) lights flickered more brightly than they should be then fixing the loose connection (in a neutral line) is much more important and critical and everrything other than an incandescent light (includes microwave ovens since they contain electronics) needs to be unplugged from the affected circuits un til it is fixed.
There are so many places to look that I can't describe them all without writing a treatise; calling an electrician would be the best bet if you don't already know some of the troubleshooting techniques.
When cleaning anything including baby diapers, it is better to sweep off or scrape off as much solid and semisolid material as you can first. (1) Less cleaning fluid or detergent needs to be used, (2) Less of a mushy mess which in turn means that bleaches or disinfectants will be more effective.