Why Did My Lightbulb Explode?

Jun 1, 2020

It’s happened to most homeowners at some point. You’re hanging out in your house and minding your own business, maybe reading a book or watching TV, when suddenly, overhead, the light goes out. But it doesn’t just burn out—it actually explodes! What causes a lightbulb to explode, and is there anything you can do to prevent this from happening? Keep reading to learn the answers you need from our knowledgeable electricians at CMC Electric.

Reasons Why Your Lightbulb Exploded:

  • Poor Insulation: Cheap lightbulb manufacturers often do not make their product with sufficient insulation at the base of the bulb. This can cause the metal base to melt when the light is left on for a long time and the temperature gets too hot. This in turn will cause the gas stored in the bulb to leak, resulting in a pressure imbalance that leads to the mini-explosion. The best way to avoid this issue? Consider using bulbs from more well-known and trusted manufacturers. We recommend using energy-efficient, LED lightbulbs whenever possible.
  • Loose Connections: Sometimes, a lightbulb will explode because of a loose connection between the bulb and the socket. When the bulb connection is loose, electricity may hop from the bulb’s metal contact, instead of flowing through it. When this happens, the bulb’s fitting can become overheated, causing the lightbulb to explode. Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening easily by making sure your bulbs are always tight and screwed in properly.
  • Excessive Wattage: Many homeowners are not aware that their fixtures are designed to fit with certain lightbulbs based on the bulb wattage. If the lightbulb you are using has a greater wattage than your fixture’s limit, your light fixture may overheat, and the bulb may explode. Fortunately, you can usually find the recommended bulb wattage printed on the label of the light socket. If you do not see the bulb recommendation on the socket, you can contact the manufacturer to ask for this information directly, or just err on the side of caution and use low-wattage bulbs whenever possible.
  • Oil: All human skin produces natural oil, and when you touch a lightbulb, some of that oil may rub off. With halogen lightbulbs in particular, oil residue often leaves a hot spot, causing it to crack as the bulb heats up. When this happens, gas can leak out of the bulb, resulting in an explosion. This is why it’s a good idea to wear gloves or at least thoroughly wash and dry your hands before changing a lightbulb. Whatever you do, never change a lightbulb with sweaty hands, and if you do ever notice that your bulb is cracked, turn off the light and switch it out immediately.

For lighting issues and all your other essential electrical services, call CMC Electric at (919) 694-4454 today. We offer 24/7 emergency service, and also accept inquiries online.

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