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Why do my light bulbs keep burning out?

May 12, 2020

A string of dimming and flickering LED light bulbs in a Northern Virginian home.


A common—and frustrating—electrical problem many homeowners encounter is a light bulb that keeps burning out for seemingly no reason. Dimming and flickering lights could be related to a one-off issue, like a sudden power surge or downed electrical wire from a storm, but consistent issues with light bulbs burning out could be indicative of a more serious electrical problem. 

The lifespan of most incandescent light bulbs is about 900 hours, which equals about 4 months depending on frequency of use. By contrast, LED light bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours. If your LED light bulbs keep burning out every few weeks or months, that’s a surefire sign that something is wrong with your electrical system. 

Read more: 7 Common Electrical Problems

Reasons Why Light Bulbs Keep Burning Out

There are a few causes of quick-burning bulbs that you should check for to rule out serious electrical wiring problems. Common reasons why your light bulbs keep burning out include:

High Wattage

Using a higher wattage light bulb than recommended for a certain light fixture not only damages the light bulb but also creates a serious fire hazard. If the wattage of the light bulb exceeds the maximum recommended wattage for the device or fixture, the bulb will generate too much heat and cause the filament to burn out. Worst case scenario—that excess heat will start a house fire. 

Light Bulb Motion

When a light bulb moves around too much, like in a ceiling fan fixture or a garage door light, the shaking can damage the light bulb’s filaments and shorten the lifespan of the bulb. This is a more common problem with incandescent bulbs, so try switching to LED light bulbs in fixtures that experience frequent motion or shaking. 

Light Fixture Issues

Did you know that screwing in a light bulb too tightly can actually cause a loose connection? The excess pressure from screwing in a light bulb too tight can warp the metal connection tab at the bottom of the socket of the fixture, creating a loose connection over time and causing the light bulb to flicker. This will ultimately cause the light bulb to burn out faster. 

Homeowners can likely fix this issue on their own. Before attempting any electrical work, make sure to cut the power to that light fixture! You can then lift the metal connection tab upward to ensure it connects with the bulb when reinserted.

Excess Voltage

The most dangerous reason why your light bulbs keep burning out is that the voltage in your home is too high. If you notice multiple light bulbs in different rooms of your home are burning out frequently or at similar times, that could be a sign that your home’s voltage is too high for your electrical wiring to handle. This problem requires immediate attention from a licensed electrician. High home voltage could lead to electrical malfunctions that result in house fires.

Is it time to replace your home’s electrical wiring?

It may seem that outdated electrical wiring is nothing more than an inconvenience, but in reality, it can pose a serious danger to your home and your family. The National Fire Protection Association reported that electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of house fires in the United States. 

Here are some warning signs of outdated electrical wiring to look for:
  • Circuit breakers trip frequently
  • Vibration or tingling when you touch a wall switch, appliance or receptacle
  • Dimming and flickering lights
  • A burning smell in a particular room or from an appliance
  • Discolored outlets and switch plates that are warm to the touch
  • Ungrounded outlets throughout the house (these only accommodate two prong plugs)
  • A lack of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in your bathrooms, kitchen and other areas that may be exposed to moisture

Read more: When should you replace old wiring in a house?

Let CroppMetcalfe’s Electricians Light the Way

If your light bulbs keep burning out and if nothing seems to solve the problem, or if you have another electrical issue, reach out to the electrical experts at CroppMetcalfe. Our 5-Star Technicians can repair and replace any faulty electrical fixtures and get your electrical system back up and running quickly and safely. Call us at 1-877-740-6657 or contact us online to request service today!


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