Fluorescent Lighting Problems and How To Fix Them
January 26, 2020 by: Dave Rongey
How to Fix Fluorescent Lighting Problems: The Most Common Problems with Fluorescent Lighting and How to Fix Them, Troubleshooting Problems with Fluorescent Light Fixtures.
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.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Jim.
How to Fix Your Fluorescent Lighting Problems
Application: Troubleshooting Problems with Fluorescent Light Fixtures.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate. This electrical wiring project is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Hand Tools, a Voltage Tester 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 all of the lamps and start fresh.
- Lamps are much less expensive that a ballast, and besides, you don’t have to worry about lamps for a while.
- 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, and the grounded metal reflector must be mounted within 1/2 inch of the lamps.
- In some cases where the ground wire has not been attached correctly, the fluorescent lamps may not light up at all, or the lamps will burn dimly, and this 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.
- For Example: The earlier non-electronic magnetic type ballasts have a minimum starting temperature of between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the T12 F40 lamps, however the newer electronic type ballasts have a minimum starting temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit for T8 F32 lamps.
- As you can see, in colder applications it would be best to upgrade the light fixture to an electronic ballast and install new lamps which will eliminate the problems associated with cold temperature.
More about Installing Home Lighting
Kitchen Electrical Wiring
Fully Explained Photos and Wiring Diagrams for Kitchen Electrical Wiring with Code Requirements for most new or remodel projects.
Testers to Help Solve Electrical Problems
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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