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Old 10-26-2009, 11:44 PM   #1
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


I am re-doing my bathroom and was tearing out the drywall about 2 feet away from the vanity flourescent light fixture, which is only about 2 months old. All was well and then I had to bang on the drywall with my hammer and the lights went dim and bluey-green, then shut off altogether. I could then hear a crackly sound from the fixture and a strong smell that reminded me of gunpowder/firecrackers.

I shut off the light immediately, and the smell has dissipated. When I flick the switch back on, the lights are dead but I get that crackly sound from the fixture. Any ideas? I figure either I worked the wires loose or damaged the ballast, but I have no idea. Help!

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Old 10-27-2009, 05:39 AM   #2
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


You knocked wires loose and they are arcing. You, or a qualified electrician needs to remove the fixture (with power off) to find/fix the problem.

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Old 10-27-2009, 01:03 PM   #3
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


You may have only knocked the bulbs loose from the socket. Remove cover and make sure bulbs are seated correctly. Flourescent bulbs arc when they half seated.
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:30 PM   #4
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


So the smell is ozone?
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:11 PM   #5
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


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So the smell is ozone?
Burning plastic if bulb is arcing in socket. I have seen plenty of melted ones.
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Old 10-27-2009, 03:37 PM   #6
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


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Burning plastic if bulb is arcing in socket. I have seen plenty of melted ones.
Yep! What he said!
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:06 PM   #7
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


I like it when you are relamping offices running on 277v and the workers jump like crazy when it happens.
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Old 10-28-2009, 10:49 AM   #8
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


Thanks for all the responses. I checked the bulbs and they are seated fine. I pulled the fixture off the wall and the wires were connected solidly. I checked with a multimeter and wires read at 120. All wiring inside appeared normal. The ballast appears to be the problem -- it seems to be the center of the gunpowdery smell and I could see very faint soot marks on it. It seems odd to me that a ballast could fail so easily, but so it goes. Looks like it will cost about $30 to buy a new one.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old 10-28-2009, 10:54 AM   #9
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


Take the fixture back where you purchased it from and have them replace it.
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Old 10-28-2009, 12:25 PM   #10
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


Already thought of that, but it was a clearance item sold at deep discount at the big blue and gray box store -- I think clearance is sold as-is there. At any rate, they no longer carry the fixture and we really like it, so we'll get a new ballast. With the price we paid, it's still cheaper than the full price of the lamp!
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Old 10-28-2009, 12:47 PM   #11
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"Gunpowder" smell from flourescent light


An electric drill having sparks at the brushes will give you the ozone smell out of its cooling slots at the rear of the drill.

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