Left In The Dark


A while back the outdoor back light stopped working. The obvious thing to do was to replace the light bulb, but even with new bulbs, the light still doesn't work at all. Now assuming the inside light --which is on the same circuit & circuitbreaker -- is still working, why doesn't the outdoor light work? Suggestions, anyone?
Ron
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Just because a light bulb is new doesn’t mean the filament is intact these days where everything is made in a crappy Asian factory. Can you check for continuity? Most likely reason is one of the riveted wire connectors is loose or the wiring in the fixture is burned due to a higher wattage light bulb being used that the fixture wasn’t designed for. Most fixtures can only handle a maximum 60 watt bulb due to the socket being made of Bakelite instead of ceramic especially if the orientation of the light bulb is pointing down where the generated heat is concentrated on the base.
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Outside light issues like this are typically corrosion related. Get a voltmeter and a screwdriver and take the fixture off and see if there's current getting to the wires and inspect for discoloration, corrosion, broken wires, etc. The socket itself sometimes gets a layer of crud on it, especially the center tab. If that all looks OK I'd go look at the switch to see if the wires are unbroken and still properly connected. A typical failure point is where the insulation was stripped. Too deep a nick into the wire can eventually lead to a total break, especially in outdoor fixtures subject to frequent changes in humidity and temperature.
-- Bobby G.
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*Bad switch, bad socket, bad connections, incandescent changed out for a compact fluorescent, or something else.
Remove the light fixture and see if you have juice there or remove the light switch and connect the two wires together.
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John Grabowski wrote the following:

"incandescent changed out for a compact fluorescent" Why? All my outdoor light fixtures have been changed from incands to CFL with no problem, except for the few seconds it takes a CFL to warm to full brightness.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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*Some people have controls such as timers for their outside lights. Some controls do not have a separate neutral connection, but instead use the incandescent filament to complete the circuit. It cannot complete the circuit on CFL's.
I just finished a job replacing 194 outside lights on townhomes with energy efficient light fixtures. About half a dozen would not work because of the timers that the homeowners had to control their old fixture.
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On Sun, 19 Sep 2010 15:03:13 -0400, "John Grabowski"

Also many motion detectors cannot handle CFLs. you have to make sure you are getting one rated for fluorescent or for motor load. I ordered on a few years ago both for this reason and because the ones I was buying at the big box kept going bad, probably not sufficiently lightning-resistant for Florida.
Also lighted switches may not be compatible with CFLs. A "lit when on" switch will probably be OK (though I haven't tried it). A "lit when off" switch very likely will not work, but you'll know it because the CFL bulb will flash every few seconds. (The switch-light circuit also goes through the bulb, which is no big deal with incandescent because the current is small and limited by the light in the switch. I assume they do it this way so the light in the switch goes off when the circuit is open elsewhere. With a CFL, the circuit is basically open at the bulb when off, and the voltage builds up over a few seconds until it the bulb lights, but then immediately goes out because the other light has limited the current. At least this is what I worked out from my observations when it happened to me. Quite possibly other lighted switches don't trickle through the bulb and so are OK.)
Edward
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What Molly and Robert said but also how does the switch feel? bad bulb, bad socket, bad switch. Then the had to find things are next.
--
Colbyt
Please come visit http://www.househomerepair.com
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On 9/19/10 2:31 AM, Ron wrote:

Been there, done that.
Most lights are controlled by switches. If you've had any visitors, somebody probably turned yours "off" by mistake.
A schematic diagram would be the best way to locate the switch. If you know the model number of your house, you can buy a schematic from SAMS Technical Publishing.
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wrote:

While you're at it, check out the schematic for the bank's alarm system.
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I had a lamppost with a similar issue. A bulb went out and I replaced itm but it didn't work. The bul I took out was bad, and the new one was good (worked in a different socket). It turned out that there was a bit of debris that fell into the socket when I took the old bulb out, preventing contact for the new bulb. The debris was a piece of glass from the housing that was broken by a ball.
I cleared that and replaced the bulb, and it worked. For a while. I did not replace the glass right away, and forgot about it. I ended up getting water into the fixture and shorting it out.
So, there are two possibilities. Hope its helpful, and if its one of tyhe two, I hope its the first. Just make sure that the fixture is protected if it is the case.
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Sometimes the little tab in the center of the socket gets pushed too hard. Needs to be bent out a little.
--
Christopher A. Young
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wrote:

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I have some humongous lights outside. They take a 250W Metalarc light. They can run on 220 or 110. If you hook them up to 110, there is a transformer. There is also what looks to be a very large capacitor (may be ballast) in the transformer box.
You have not provided enough information about your light. There are lots of different types. Perhaps if you were a little more specific ............... It could be transformer, ballast, capacitor, bulb(s), lots of things.
Steve
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