Fluorescent Lighting Problems and How To Fix Them

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Fix Your Fluorescent Lighting Problems: The Most Common Problems with Fluorescent Lighting and How to Fix Them.

Guide to Fluorescent Light Fixtures and How to Fix Them

Electrical Question: My Fluorescent kitchen light was not coming on quickly if at all.

  • I replaced the ballast which fixed the problem for about 3 days.
  • Now it’s back to not turning on.
  • When you hit the switch you see a flicker of light at one end of the U shaped bulbs but that is about it.
  • This light has 2 U shaped fluorescent lights.

Appreciate your help !
Background: Jim, a Homeowner from Southington, Connecticut.

Additional Comments: Great website.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Jim.

How to Fix Your Fluorescent Lighting Problems

Application: Fluorescent Light Fixture Wiring.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Hand Tools and Safe Ladder.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal experience, the light fixture and access to the light fixture.
Precaution: Identify the light fixture circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Replacement parts for the light fixture should be compatible with the type of fluorescent lamps that have been installed.

The Most Common Problems with Fluorescent Lighting and How to Fix Them

  • Bad Lamps
    • Indicated by dark circles at the end of the lamps.
    • Simply replace the lamps, typically every two years depending on the amount of use.
    • If you allow the lamps to burn out in the sockets this can burn out the ballast.
    • When you replace a ballast always replace the lamps.
    • Lamps are much less expensive that a ballast, so don’t ignore this.
  • A Bad Ballast
    • As indicated above, if replacing a ballast make sure it is intended for the exact lamps that are being used.
    • If the fixture had an older magnetic ballast then you may consider upgrading the fixture ballast to a solid state ballast.
    • In most cases the sockets will not require changing, but again, you will need to match the lamps to the ballast.
    • Solid state ballasts are much more energy efficient, produce less heat and are less sensitive to cool temperature starting problems.
  • Single Pinned Lamps
    • This is where one of the lamp pins is not in the socket or not making contact in the socket.
    • This is a very common problem, but is easily fixed.
    • Remove the lamp and reinstall it paying attention to lining up the pins with the lamp socket and then giving the lamp a twist to seat the pins into place.
    • Some sockets are made to push the lamp pins directly into place with a little snap-in pressure.
    • Examine the lamp sockets to see which type your fixture has. Never force a lamp.
  • No Ground Wire
    • Fluorescent lights require a ground wire from the electrical circuit to be attached to the metal frame of the light fixture.
    • In some cases where the ground wire has not been attached, the fluorescent lamps may not light up all the way which will cause the lamps to burn out prematurely.
  • Cold Temperatures
    • Many of the older magnetic types of ballasts are slower to start in colder temperatures and after they do start the lamps flicker until they warm up.
    • Upgrading the light fixture to an electronic ballast and new matching lamps usually takes care of this problem.

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85 Responses to “Fluorescent Lighting Problems and How To Fix Them”
  1. Rick says:

    My laundry room florescent light has two bulbs, and is four foot long. Then fixture will come on quickly about half the time. The other times I must flip the switch multiple times before the light comes on. I have noticed recently that when turning the switch on, the end of the bulb shows a little light. I leave it on for a little while, then go back and flip the switch again and the light comes on. Bad ballast?


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