Asked on Dec 14, 2016

I can't figure out why my light bulbs get loose!

by Edna
A few light fixtures in my house will sometimes go out, but when I tighten the bulbs they work again. Any idea why the bulbs would get loose?
  9 answers
  • Melody Melody on Dec 14, 2016

    Can't help you but I have an annoying one in my kitchen fan and each time I re -tighten it I burn my fingers. I will await any answer anyone has.

    • J Elaine Baker J Elaine Baker on Dec 14, 2016

      For kitchen fans, I recommend LED bulbs to avoid the finger burns. Be sure NOT to use the squiggle version of bulb. There are nice flat faced spotlights in the LED that work well. The plastic housing on the bulb and their heat sink reacts to the waggle of the fan blades differently. Hopefully they will stay in nicer. You can even order LED spots that have a remote control to them. I use them on the big Bermuda fan in my guest room so guests can turn off the light from the bed. Good luck!!

  • 7717699 7717699 on Dec 14, 2016

    I have experienced this problem in several lights in my home. I replaced the sockets that the light bulb sits in and voila..good as new! :)

    Do NOT attempt this if you are unfamiliar with electrical gizmos!!

    Also, depending on the age of the light fixtures you might not be able to buy the sockets and may have to replace the whole fixture :(

    I have original light fixtures (circa 1930's) in my bathroom and I am going to attempt to find a socket that will fit into the fixtures, as my lightbulbs are burning out very quickly in them! I would really hate to replace the fixtures, as they are porcelain and are simply beautiful.

    Good luck ladies!!

    • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Dec 15, 2016

      Have you looked to see if there is a metal tab at the bottom of the socket that could either be bent outward to make better contact or be sanded or scraped to remove corrosion for the same purpose, AFTER you've turned off the power, of course? If it's not a matter of poor contact between the bulb and the socket, perhaps you could try using 120 volt bulbs instead of 110 volt ones. They are the greatest for hard-to-reach fixtures, since they last WAY longer! They sell them at Dollar Tree in a 2-pack! (Sunbeam brand)

  • William William on Dec 14, 2016

    Two possibilities come to mind. The first is thermal cycling. When the lamp turns on, the parts of the bulb base and socket heat up, causing them to expand. However, not all parts heat at the same rate. In addition, the parts are made from different materials which have different expansion charactistics. Thus the parts change size, but not in perfect synchronization, which creates internal stresses that push on the bulb, loosening it or tightening it. ***** Random vibrations from things like people walking around, passing vehicles, and circulating air currents. Again, if these vibrations are not perfectly balanced—and they never are—then they will tend to nudge the bulb more in one direction than another. If they’re pushing in the unscrewing direction, they will nudge the bulb away from the electrical contacts and eventually out of the socket.

  • J Elaine Baker J Elaine Baker on Dec 14, 2016

    William is right ... so many factors go into the physics behind metal/ceramic/electric fittings. It is amazing we don't have more troubles with it. I wrap a very narrow line of Teflon tape at the mid-point of the screw in on some bulbs. It fills gaps and forces a difference in vibration. Hope that helps!

  • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Dec 15, 2016

    First of all, don't screw it in or out when it's hot, only when it's cold. Secondly, coat the base of the bulb with a thin coat of petroleum jelly. You will be less likely to have the bulb come apart later, when you seek to remove it after screwing it in firmly. Alternatively, the Teflon pipe thread tape sounds good, too.

  • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Dec 15, 2016

    The petroleum jelly is also a good idea in damp places, like over a range or an aquarium, to prevent corrosion.

  • Melody Melody on Dec 15, 2016

    I have some of those flat faced bulbs so will try that - thanks

  • B J  Alexis B J Alexis on Dec 15, 2016

    I've had that problem mostly due to vibrations from those walking on the above floor, or garbage or delivery trucks that can cause more vibrations in one's home than you would think.

  • Chr4787838 Chr4787838 on Dec 15, 2016

    Ours is caused by the trains on the tracks about three blocks away as well as the other reasons for vibrations.