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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings all:

I am a small time landlord and a tenant informed me that the bulbs (lamps) in the kitchen lights fail rapidly - sometimes in as little as 24 hrs. According to her, both CFLs and incandescent bulbs have had a short life. Here are images of 2 of the failed 60w incandescent bulbs that I replaced yesterday. http://i1199.photobucket.com/albums/aa472/Deerfield_rental/Packard/20160105_2317251.jpg http://i1199.photobucket.com/albums/aa472/Deerfield_rental/Packard/20160105_2319121.jpg It looks as if the element vaporized. One bulb has splatter marks on the inside of the glass.

The two fixtures are 7 yrs old (along with the circuit wiring and the breaker box at 7 years since installation). The two fixtures have 2 bulbs apiece. The lamp sockets look as new - no corrosion or signs of overheating. The fixtures themselves are the half dome style that has been popular in the past decade or so. Other lights on the same circuit, including some adjacent recessed cans with BR30s are still the original bulbs that I put in 7 years ago. Both fixtures are on a common pair of 3-way switches. Voltage at the lamp holders was 120.1 to 121.0v. I had the same voltage readings at a nearby receptacle on a different circuit. Each fixture had one bad bulb. One fixture had a bulb that was not lit and that appeared to have smoke swirls on the inside of the glass and when I touched it to remove it, the bulb lit up (and stayed lit). I switched the lights off/on/off 30 times from each switch (I was thinking that maybe there was a bit of a voltage spike from a bad switch).

I have not observed anything incorrect or out of the ordinary. I realize that with off shore manufacturing, that there are some substandard bulbs out there (my experience more so with CFL than incandescent). I installed some new old stock 60w Sylvania bulbs that I picked up at an estate sale (bulbs not made in Asia) and put a slight film of dielectric grease on the threads & center, left the fixture shade off and told the tenant to call me when the bulbs once again fail.

Any ideas or suggestions on what the cause might be? BTW, the same tenant has been in the house for the past 6.5 years so I don't think the tenant's expectations are out of line.
 

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If you've checked the voltage, then surely must be bad bulbs. Bad switches cannot create voltage.

And diaelectric grease is actually non-conductive. It is used in applications to prevent corrosion. You wouldn't need it inside a lamp socket.
 

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Loose connections, vibration , high heat and switching can all lead to rapid lamp failures . Poor quality bulbs could also be an issue.
 

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Vibration, such as from walking on the upstairs floor above the ceiling lights, will greatly shorten the life of incandescent lamps.

Sometimes the end of the lamp does not make good contact with the bottom of the socket. Turn off the power and use a paper clip with a tiny L bend to dig in and lift the tab at the bottom of the socket. Retry some of the lamps that did not work but did not look to be burned out such as have a piece of debris (the filament) rattling around loose inside.
 

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The bulbs may be telling you about a bigger problem. I suggest you listen.

I suggest pulling the fixture off the box, disconnect the hot, common & ground wires, inspect for hot ends, clean house wire ends, cut fixture wires back to clean wire, connect with new wire nuts and put all back.

Then check the switch connections for same.

A volt meter measures with near zero current and often will not indicate a poor connection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all for your responses.

At just over 2 weeks, my new old stock (USA made) bulbs (lamps) are still working well but the ones from the tenant (I used one of mine and one of the tenant's bulbs in each fixture) have died. I suspect that she bought several packages of the same bad lot of bulbs and when these bad bulbs failed in succession she called me. At this point the glass domes are still off of the fixtures but there was no indication of any prior overheating - I'll stop by next week to reinstall the domes. To respond to some of your suggestions - the failed bulbs were 130v. No upstairs (no undue vibrations on the fixtures/bulbs). No, I have not tried LEDs - I am a bit leery of LEDs since most of them are Chinese mfg also and there is more to go wrong with an LED than an incandescent and my concern that a typical tenant would routinely replace incandecents w/ CFLs (I would hate to see a good LED such as a Cree tossed in the trash and replaced by a WallyWorld CFL. I tend to agree with several of you that speculated on bad bulbs (Chinese quality) - the failed bulbs were branded as Sunbeam, probably bought from WallyWorld. I hated to dig into my stash of incandescent but I figured I needed to use a presumed good quality bulb as a reference.
 
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