Failing Fluorescent Fixtures

I have a fluorescent light fixture in my bathroom that won't fully light up anymore. When I flick the switch, the bulbs come on to about 30% full brightness. If I leave them on for a long time (maybe a half an hour), they eventually kick on to full brightness. Obviously the bulbs aren't burned out. What do I need to do in order to "see the light?"
Thanks.
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I will suggest several things to check in the order I would check.
Are the lamps black at one or both ends? If so replace them (get the same type)
Try removing and replacing the lamps. Bad contact is a possibility.
Make sure the fixture is properly grounded. This is especially important in a bathroom as it is not only a functional issue, but a safety issue.
Consider replacing the fixtures. I would tend to chose non-fluorescent fixtures. There are some safety concerns and at least some codes have banned them from bathrooms. Generally they are not good lights for bathrooms. The quality of light is not good and the short term use they generally get in a bathroom tends to negate their advantages.
Remember that cold temperatures are a problem for many fluorescent lamps and that is likely why they just started having problems.
Good Luck
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Joseph E. Meehan

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Don't use flourescent bulbs in places where you are often turning on and off the light.
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Replace in order: bulbs, starter (be certain you match to bulb wattage), ballast. You probably can't get a replacement ballast, so you will need to replace the entire fixture.

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Home Depot and Lowes sells replacement ballasts but you need to know what to buy and they are expensive. Also hooking them up is not fun because the wires are usually too short. and you'll have to pigtail them to the old wires.
Before replacing the ballast make sure it is wired tight. I started taking one apart to replace the ballast and found a loose wire was the culprit.
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An excellent time to upgrade to a high efficiency T-8 fixture with electronic ballast.
Fluorescent lights should be used thruout your house for the excellent cost savings on your energy bill.
And using a fluorescent light in the bathroom is extremely important if someone in your house uses that room to apply makeup. That's because most of the fluorescent lamps approach the color temperature of outdoors, stores and offices where they will be seen. And you have a choice in the color temperature when you replace the bulbs.
Only idiots would not have a fluorescent in the bathroom.
PJ
On 18 Dec 2003 01:08:40 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) wrote:

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That really depends upon how much time you spend there. Fluorescent bulbs are great if you are going to be there for a while or want to put in a bulb that gives off the equivalent of 150W bulb in the space a regular light bulb takes. Flourescent bulbs will die an early death is used in places where they are switched on and off a lot. I don't see why you would spend so much on a bulb that is going to die out before you recoup the energy savings.
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Don't use "Cool White" bulbs in the bathroom or kitchen. They have a strong blue content which makes zits and meat turn purple. "Warm White" is the pink equivalent which is much better in those places.
(Fleemo) wrote:

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quoting:

What size are the bulbs? How many bulbs?
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On 18 Dec 2003 01:08:40 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) wrote:

First thing...... Clean the fixture. (with power off). Remove bulbs and clean exposed metal base & sides + outside portion of end sockets. Then clean the bulbs and reinstall.
Use a folded paper towel damped with something like "Streak free Cinch" cleaner.
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On 18 Dec 2003 01:08:40 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) wrote:

Does this have two 2-foot 1.5 inch diameter 20 watt bulbs? If so, then chances are you have the usual "trigger start" ballast for that. I see that dim performance, often with a little flickering, with those.
Replacing both bulbs usually fixes this.
Probably better would be to replace the ballast with one for two F17T8 "lamps" (bulbs), and then get two of those bulbs. You will probably need to get all of this from an electrical or electrical/lighting supply shop. Pay attention to the ballast wiring diagram on the label - it may be different from from the wiring of the old ballast.
The F17T8 bulbs are available in different colors and two color rendering grades. My favorite is GE /SPX35, Philips /TL835, or Sylvania /D835 ("semi warm white" [my words] 3500 Kelvin, color rendering index in the low-mid 80's).
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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