Garage flourescent lighting trouble

I'm having garage fluorescent lighting trouble. There are two surface mount fluorescent tube pairs in my garage controlled by two three-way switches. When I turn one switch on, the ends of both fixtures glow for awhile, then sometimes eventually light. Sometimes only one (of the four tubes) light. Today I tried running my hand across the tubes and that made them light up. Fixtures, tubes and all are 13 years old. They have had problems when tempertures drop to 10 degrees in the winter, but this is first during the hot summers. The temperature in the garage is about 90 to 100 degrees, high humidity. Any ideas/comments? Or troubleshooting steps to take?
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Phisherman wrote:

It might be a good idea to switch to new high efficient, cold rated fixtures and lamps. However you can fix the ones you have by fixing the bad ground wire.
--
Joseph Meehan

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On Fri, 15 Jul 2005 01:09:38 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

Good advice... I would add that if you are changing the tubes, change them in pairs. Used tubes are characterized by a blackening of the cathodes (at the ends) but a bad tube doesn't always make itself visible.
Beachcomber
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On Fri, 15 Jul 2005 01:09:38 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

Help me here. To test the ground. Would I test continuity between the metal housing and the ground from an electrical outlet? If this tests okay, I'm thinking about replacing the tubes or the entire fixtures.
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Phisherman wrote:

Well that will check out half of the problem. It is also possible that the outlet is not properly grounded. You can try one of the inexpensive tester than plug in and light up.
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Joseph Meehan

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Do you have 5 people to come over and help you? If yes then try changing the bulbs!

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Spend the $30 and replace the entire fixtures. That or replace the balasts which probably cost nearly as much.
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Phisherman wrote:

Washing and drying tubes has helped me. A new tube has a coating of silicone or something to repel moisture, but humidity affects older tubes. Washing seems to get rid of contaminants that hold moisture. Sometimes a nonstarting tube will feel moist when everything else in the room feels dry.
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On Fri, 15 Jul 2005 02:28:31 -0400, Choreboy

I removed the tubes, washed and dried them, and now they are lighting up properly. Thanks Choreboy!
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