Ceiling fan/light died on me, like every light bulb in my place

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Old 01-31-14, 12:59 PM
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Ceiling fan/light died on me, like every light bulb in my place

Hello,

so I had a ceiling fan and light, and it burned out on me after just 8 months. I was afraid to install another one because the last one set me back $800, and I don't want this to be a regular thing. Also, light bulbs in my place last about 1/4 to 1/3 the time that the package said it would. All different types of lights including coiled florescent lights that were to last years only lasted like 1 year. I don't use the lights very often, as I have good natural lighting.

Well, I want to install a ceiling fan and light again, but i'm worried that I'm just going to throw money away again. What may be causing this, and how can I fix it? I live in a renovated historic building and all the electrical is about 6 years old. I've been living here since the renovation, and it's been like this from the start. please help.
 
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Old 01-31-14, 01:04 PM
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WelCome to the forums! Have you the means of measuring the voltage at any given point? An inexpensive multimeter ($10) would be the tool of choice. Higher than normal voltage is sometimes the culprit.
 
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Old 01-31-14, 01:31 PM
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What do you mean by "like every light bulb in my place"? Did all the bulbs stop lighting? Were there any electrical storms?
 
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Old 02-01-14, 04:47 PM
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Thank you for the replies guys. answers to your questions.

when I said: like every light bulb in my place... I meant that all light bulbs will burn out at a rate of about a quarter of what you would expect. It doesn't all die out at once. There are no electric storms here, and weather is very mild all the time (los angeles, CA).

I can pick up a multimeter at home depot. Question however... what is normal voltage. If the voltage is too high, what can I do about it? Is it something I can fix myself?
 
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Old 02-01-14, 05:00 PM
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If you buy a multimeter be sure to get a cheap, $8-$15, analog not digital. The power company not you is responsible for correct voltage. Normal voltage is 120 volts 5%.
 
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Old 02-01-14, 05:25 PM
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A loose connection can cause voltage fluctuations and will shorten the life of just about everything.

Vibration and excess heat will shorten bulb life as will excess switching.
 
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Old 02-01-14, 06:54 PM
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I can pick up a multimeter at home depot. Question however... what is normal voltage.
Ray said
Originally Posted by ray2047
Normal voltage is 120 volts 5%.
That sounds really good. I've always taken normal voltage to be the nominal voltage +10%. With Ray's formula you should expect 114 to 126 volts hot-to ground and hot-to neutral. With mine you'd expect 108 to 132 volts on those connections.

If the voltage is too high, what can I do about it?
Again, Ray said that
Originally Posted by ray2047
The power company not you is responsible for correct voltage.
That's true up to a point. That point may be where their cables are attached to your house or where the supply cables enter your meter base. Beyond that point, wherever it is, installing and maintaining a system that will keep everything in a safe working condition is your responsibility. Sometimes, if they're feeling generous, power company technicians will check the incoming power at the line side of the homeowner's main overcurrent protection device (your main breaker). But that's a gift if they do it.

Is it something I can fix myself?
That's a good question. If the power coming into your system checks out 100% OK but you have voltage readings at some or all of your devices and fixtures that are outside the norm, then you must fix it yourself.

If I'm hearing you correctly, though, what you're asking is whether you can do the necessary work with your own hands, tools and materials. The answer to that is "Maybe." Most jurisdictions will allow a homeowner to do simple repairs, such as replacing switches, receptacles and lighting fixtures, without even asking their permission. A few jurisdictions will allow a homeowner to actually replace their main distribution panel, but they often require the homeowner to pass a basic electrical knowledge test and take out a permit first.

Once you have your multimeter and you've made some measurements with it, including voltages on the load side of the your main overcurrent protection device, we should have a better answer to this question.

One more point. PCboss pointed out that
Originally Posted by pcboss
A loose connection can cause voltage fluctuations and will shorten the life of just about everything.
I'll just add that a loose or missing neutral can, and will, produce off-the-chart voltages. Since your light bulbs are lasting for a few months to a year or so, that may not be your problem. We'll see. But it's something to keep in mind.
 
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