HELP - Light bulb caught on fire...

Old 06-10-10, 12:18 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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HELP - Light bulb caught on fire...

Good afternoon,

I have a hanging lantern light (glass enclosed with three candelabra bulbs) on my front porch in front of my front door. So last night I turn on the light as I am on my way out to take some trash to the curb and I hear a popping noise like one of the light bulbs blew. A second or two later I see flames inside the lantern light so I turn off the light switch. I turn it back on a few minutes later and see flames again. Now I am pondering whether I should call the fire dept as my wife is freaking out. I decide to turn off the circuit breaker and watch it for about an hour to ensure I see no smoke anywhere - to make sure that there wasn't an electrical fire somewhere else - i.e. in the ceiling.

So today I get on a ladder and take the light apart. 2 bulbs are fine and one bulb is in very bad shape. The bulb glass didn't shatter but it was completely cracked and separated at the base where it screws into the socket. It also had a major black burn mark on the glass I guess where the fire was.

With all of that said, I am not sure what to do - never have had this happen to me before. I don't want to spend $150 for an electrician to make a house call and say "oh yea, bulbs do that from time to time - no electrical problem". So I am looking to you all for some advice.

Couple of other facts to keep in mind:
- House is 4 1/2 years old - original light bulbs in the fixture.
- This light is on virtually everyday for at least a little while - never have had a problem with it before last night.
- Had a squirrel problem about 9 months ago. They were living in this crawl space above the front porch (room for them only - no chance a human can get up there). They like to chew on things - electrical wire being one of their delicacies. Unfortunately, that was the first thing I thought of last night - was this fire in my light fixture because of the squirrels? But then I reasoned with myself - why now? If they chewed through something then I would have had an issue long before now considering they are not up there any longer and the light is turned on every day.

Please let me know your thoughts. What would you do? Is it necessary to get an electrician out to look at it? What will they check? Is it something I could check myself and save a chunk of cash?

Thanks in advance for your assistance!

Old 06-10-10, 02:07 PM
Join Date: May 2010
Location: South Florida
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I assume the electrical wiring goes to the light fixture thereby energizing all three bulbs. If two of the three bulbs are fine, I don’t think you have an electrical wiring problem per se. Conceivably, if these 3 lamps have tails that go to a wire connector, it’s possible that one “hot” tail (i.e., problem lamp) could have the insulation chewed off by a squirrel and coming into contact with something, but I would first rule out simpler things.

I would remove the bad bulb, and after doing so, inspect the lamp socket (turn off electricity to fixture; if wanting to be ultra safe, kill the circuit feeding this fixture). If there is no visible damage at lamp socket, turn the electricity back on but make sure no one is standing near this fixture. If there is no visible evidence of a problem (i.e., smoke or sparks), take a voltage reading at the light socket (if no volt meter, skip to last step). Avoid touching your hands on any metal associated with fixture in the unlikely case the fixture is “hot” caused by an electrical short which is poorly grounded so that it won’t trip the breaker or blow the fuse (use rubber or thick leather gloves if working in tight quarters as they will insulate your hands). If okay, kill the electricity again, and swap a good bulb for the bad bulb. If this bulb blows, then you should take down the fixture and check the lamp socket and wires.
Old 06-13-10, 10:41 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: usa
Posts: 1,380
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is this by chance a halogen type fixture? they are known to do this when their bulbs go.

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