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Faulknertw 07-28-2008 03:51 PM

Flickering flourescent lights in new house
I had a house built in March. When we moved in the eight fluorescent lights (two bulbs per) in the garage would not turn on completely. They would only flicker. The GC told me it was because it was too cold that day and also that we needed a different type, indoor/outdoor fluorescent bulb. It is now summer and hot in the garage but the same problem exists. The lights will not turn on completely, but instead only flicker. Any ideas?

TazinCR 07-28-2008 05:35 PM

Sounds like the ballast is wired wrong. Check the diagram or better yet have the GC check it.

wire_twister 07-28-2008 06:25 PM

Wrong ballast or incorrectly wired, or wrong bulbs. Most fluorescents will light down to 40 degrees f. High output lights will work down to -20f. T-8 Fluorescents usually light down to 20 or 0f. Have the GC sort it out, this time of year any light should light.

J. V. 07-29-2008 12:23 PM

Go get some new bulbs. Replace the bulbs in one fixture first. If that works, relamp the rest. If that does not work install a new ballast. On the ballast you will find a diagram as to how it should be connected. Make sure the lights are connected correctly. Check that you have 120 volts going to the lights. By replacing the bulbs and ballast you basically have a new fixture. The other possibilities are the connections at the tombstones. But since this problem affects all the fixtures I do not think that is your problem. You can check these connections by removing both tombstones on each end and pull on the wire to make sure they are not loose. After you pull on the wire push it back into the terminal securely.
Keep in mind that both bulbs must work before the light will work. In another words, if one bulb goes out, they both go out.

Just a note: I have found numerous bad bulbs in a single case in the past. Try turning the bulbs in their sockets to ensure a good connection between the bulb and tombstone. Also, when you find two bulbs that work. Use them to test the other lights. Never trust a bulb, ever. You will not have to replace every bulb. But you will have to make sure every bulb you are testing with are good ones.

Tombstones are the sockets the bulb ends go into.

TazinCR 07-29-2008 12:30 PM

Before you buy a ballast check the price. Usually you can buy a new light cheaper. Makes sense doesn't it. I think the installer wired the ballast wrong. Just can't imagine 4 bad lights or 8 bad bulbs. Have you contacted the GC?

Charles 07-29-2008 04:02 PM


Originally Posted by TazinCR (Post 144069)
Before you buy a ballast check the price. Usually you can buy a new light cheaper. Makes sense doesn't it. I think the installer wired the ballast wrong. Just can't imagine 4 bad lights or 8 bad bulbs. Have you contacted the GC?

Yeah if it is in fact a faulty ballast this is a good idea. A lot of times you can get a brand new light for much less than a new ballast would cost. I actually picked up two brand new lights that were on sale a few months ago, which together were less than a new ballast.

As others have stated though, you should check the wiring of the ballast first.

jbfan 07-29-2008 08:50 PM

With the house being 4 months old, I would call the builder and make him send someone out to fix it!

J. V. 07-30-2008 01:23 PM

I agree that the builder should shoulder this burden. I also know the fixture is cheaper than the ballast. But installing the new fixture offsets the ballast cost for me. IMO

It's a shame someone cannot come up with a replacement ballast at a reasonable cost. I paid $32 each for two 96" lights, and the replacement electronic ballast is $38.
I am even considering using replacement magnetic ballast's in place of the electronic type. They are less money. Anyone doing this? Pros and Cons?

micromind 07-30-2008 07:54 PM

I've replaced a few electronic ballasts with magnetic ones. On thing to watch out for is that most of the electronic ballasts are 'cold cathode' start. There's no heater element in the tube, and only one wire (yellow) that's common to both tombstones in a 2 tube fixture. A magnetic ballast needs 2 wires in order to heat the ends of the tubes. The other end of the tubes (red and blue) are the same way. Some of the tombstones only have a connection for 1 wire.

You probably already know this, but the tubes are different as well.

It's pretty easy to go from magnetic to electronic, but a bit more difficult the other way.

Price around here is pretty much the same for magnetic vs. electronic, but the magnetic ones are still more reliable. Especially if you live near an industrial area, and your power is not exactly a smooth sine wave!


Big Bob 07-30-2008 08:29 PM

Yes, go back to GC..gc will send will report to distributor... distributor will call rep... rep will call manufacturer. MANU will send new ballast or say call ballast manufcturer. Now going rate to change out is $ 10.00 to $15.00 per ballast Labor allowance. From Manufacturer..
This will take a little time... EC will send crew & truck ... billing time 2-3 hrs a 65 to 125 /hr. only paid 10 to 15 $ per bad ballast tested at Factory.

Try a set of new lamps in one of the "bad" fixtures... if they still flicker
call the GC. and wait for the above..

good luck

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