Light bulb keeps burning out

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It's the little things that drive you nuts.
We've got a light fixture over our kitchen sink. For the first three years of its existence it worked flawlessly. We keep it on 24-7 as a night light and for accent.
The fixture used one bayonet type florescent lamp. It's on the same circuit as the dishwasher and disposal.
About six months ago the lamp burned out. We replaced it and it worked fine. A month later, the new lamp burned out. This repeated about four times when we finally decided to replace the fixture entirely, figuring there was something wrong with it (faulty ballast?) instead of the bulbs. Now we have an incandescent fixture with a single 40 watt candelabra bulb.
These bulbs burn out with the same frequency, about every 3-4 weeks. So now I think there's a problem with the wiring.
I've looked around at some DYI forums and one fellow had the same problem for years. He said he fixed it by going to the panel. The neutral wire to that circuit had repeatedly heated and cooled and worked itself loose. He said he retightened the neutral connection and the problems stopped.
I'm not at home right now so I can't check, but does this sound like a possible solution?
-Frank
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Frank Warner wrote:

No. A loose neutral would also affect your dishwasher and disposal since you said they are on the same circuit.
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Claude Hopper :)

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Claude Hopper wrote:

I won't argue with your second sentence, but I don't think you can simply say "No".
Note that the OP didn't say the light doesn't light, he said they burn out frequently. *If* the bulbs are burning out because of a loose neutral, that's doesn't mean you'd see the same impact (how could you?) on the dishwasher or disposal.
I've had loose neutrals cause flickering lights and the lights were the only way I knew there was a problem. The fridge and outlets on the same circuit never displayed any symptoms *that I could see*. I'm not saying that they might not have failed eventually, but they certainly weren't affected the same way the lights were.
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I misspoke. The dishwasher is on a separate circuit. Only the light fixture and disposal are on the same circuit. Still haven't opened the panel yet. That's a weekend job when I can cut power to the whole panel.
-Frank
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On 10/27/2008 3:18 PM Frank Warner spake thus:

Yep.
The solution depends on the problem, and you haven't yet determined what that problem is. First thing I'd do is measure the voltage at the light socket; is it over 120 volts (nominal, meaning in range ~ 108-130 volts)? If not, then the problem is elsewhere (high humidity from sink? vibration in floor above ceiling? too much heat in fixture?)
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powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
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Voltage is nominal. I checked. I also checked for 130 volt lamps, which aren't available at the local big box. Wouldn't voltage spikes affect other light fixtures in the house? This is the only one displaying a problem.
Humidity? Maybe.
No vibration to speak of in that wall.
-Frank
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A neutral can come loose anywhere along the circuit, not just at the panel, however if it comes loose, the load on the circuit, in your case, the light will flicker, and or go out altogether
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First, try a different brand of bulbs. Might be that you're using cheapies. I found that Phillips blow easier than GE when I had a light over my work bench.
Failing that, the other maybe problem is bad ground at the panel box.
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Bayonet base fluorescent? I thought I knew light bulbs well, and I have yet to hear of a bayonet fluorescent.
The replacements could be shoddy low bid contract manufacturer junkers.

Many of those chandelier style bulbs are cheap junkers. I would look in a home center for such bulbs of one of the "Big 3" brands (GE, Philips or Sylvania) for better luck.
Also, chandelier style bulbs with V-shaped filaments are sometimes prone to having their filaments partially short out in response to vibration.
You may want a different fixture again. Or, try a 40 watt equivalent candelabra base CFL if it fits.

If you can get a voltmeter and measure the voltage at the socket, do so.
I like to measure the voltage inside the socket so that I don't have to open anything up. But it's tigher in a candelabra socket, and it's fairly easy to short something in there. You may put a severe pit in the socket. The spark may dislodge a small piece of metal into your eye - safety goggles are advisable if you do this. Also, don't have a heart attack or get startled into bumping/breaking something (such as your head) if you touch something to the wrong thing and make a huge bright spark with a loud pop.
Maybe better off measuring the voltage leading to the fixture.
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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My thought is not only to measure the voltage, but to do it during the cycle of the dishwasher. I'm thinking that it may cause some mini-surges during the cycles as it starts and stops adding to the premature failure.
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Don't turn on the light and the bulb will last forever.
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Would that be power surges or hot flashes, if it's the woman causing it?
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On Oct 28, 2:52 pm, "Stormin Mormon"

Yes. Possibly.
Will try to explain: There are two 115 volt supplies into most homes (In North America that is)! They normally use 3 wires incoming to the crcuit breaker panel, sharing the common centre wire called the neutral. (Usually white).
Draw three horizontal lines on a sheet of paper. Mark the top line + 115 volts. Leg A Mark the middle line 0 (zero) volts. Neutral. Mark the bottom line - 115 volts. Leg B
One can see that there are 230 volts between the top and bottom lines (wires). Leg A and leg B. OK?
Now imagine your light (L) connected between the middle line and the top line and that it is switched on. Also imagine some item (could be anything, such as another light, a toaster plugged into another circuit etc. etc.) (Called I) between the middle and the bottom line wire.
Now assume that the middle wire is faulty, goes open, goes intermittent or even goes high resistance?
Looking at the diagram there will be 230 volts across the L and I and depending on the ratio of the two items at that particular moment in time the 230 volts could be distributed unequally between L and I. The voltage across L could momentarily go 'high'.
And since wattage is proportional to 'voltage squared' that could increase wattage well above above normal.
For example; Normal 115 x 115 = 13,225 High 130 x 130 = 16,900 Higher 150 x 150 = 22,500 Much higher 180 x 180 = 32,400 Too high 230 x 230 = 52,900 (Wow; even momentarily that is four times normal!).
Again depending on the ratio of voltages between L and I (BTW I could be several things all switched on together on that 'other leg', the momentary voltage across your lamp L could perhaps approach twice normal?
And 'bad' neutrals can and have caused damage to lights and eqipment. Could perhaps be going high resistance outside in the supply wires to the house? So everything in the house could be connected willy nilly through various circuits across 230 volts!
Think on it anyway.
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Don Klipstein wrote:

I have ten bayonet fluorescent fixtures that provide security lighting.
Here's some examples (though not the ones I have):
http://www.globalenergy.ie/lighting/products/CFL.html
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OK, I see!
But where do you live where the .ie to-leveel-domain is applicable
Where do you live where Joe Sixpack can reasonably deploy ten bayonet base fluorescent bulbs?
And where in the world would 10 of them be used for "security lighting" for what I would guess to be one home?
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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Don Klipstein wrote:

## I can get to it from here... It was just the first in a Google search. But here's the actual bulb I use for most of the lights: http://www.esplighting.com/liofam12wcfl.html

## I live in Houston. Plenty of Joes around here.

1 - lighted street number 1 - driveway 1 - walkway 1 - front porch 1 - back door
Times two for my duplex. (I live on one side, office on the other. Commute time is about 20 seconds.)
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I see lack of bayonet base. The image shown there has pin base.
The bulb shown there is also a 12 watt FUL type - which is *arguably not* a compact fluorescent due to being much less compact than, say, the PL-13 /AKA/ F13TT and also due to usually having an "old tech" phosphor.
Furthermore, the above link has some tendency to confirm my experience of that particular beast being to some notable extent by "LOA". My experience in Usenet is that "LOA" gets a notable share of bad press. My experience elsewhere on Planet Earth is telling me that the "bad press" was justified.
DISCLAIMER - I have only purchased one LOA product since 2001-2002 or so, and was disappointed by it on basis of falling short of claimed light output. The LOA products that I purchased before then have entirely fallen short of claimed light output and also had a spectacularly high rate of "dying young". And I have a delivery job, and I look at and see lights by the hundreds of thousands, including 10's of thousands of CFLs. I found highest percentage being burned out while remaining fixture both overall and also highest percentage of ones known to have burned out in less than 1.5 years or so to be LOA ones.
Of course, LOA may have improved since I started largely avoiding them, and I have experienced worse than LOA - namely the outright stool specimens of CFLs sold in many but not all dollar stores!

However, your above link has a photo showing a pin-base model and no reference of any kind to anything with a bayonet base.

Are they all bayonet base models of CFL? Are not any of them screw base or pin base? Do you actually use CFLs for all 10 of these locations? Do you use bayonet base CFLs for all 10 of them? You did already respond by providing a link showing an only-arguably CFL that is pin base and not bayonet base according to the photo.
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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Don Klipstein wrote:

'bout seven years back, we called the gas company (or was it the university extension service?) about insulating the attic (or putting in an attic fan?), because they supposedly have energy experts that give free consultations. Obviously my memory is not precise, but I do remember that the guy gave us several of the screw-in fluorescents that are pretty common nowadays.
We tried them with some enthusiasm, but some never worked at all, and the others stopped working pretty soon. I figured that somebody, probably the manufacturer, was getting some kind of tax deduction and maybe solving a mercury-disposal problem at the same time by giving away their flaky product. I don't remember the brand, but it was one of the major ones like Phillips or GE or Sylvania.
Since then we've bought similar lamps and put them in at least eight sockets. We had one go bad after maybe six months and took it back to the retailer, who replaced it, although I don't know that they were required to. The others are doing okay for maybe a couple years now.
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Is there anything changed that could cause more vibration in the area of the lamp?
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