Asked on Apr 16, 2016

Why do the light bulbs in my ceiling fan keep burning out so quickly?

by Mary
My ceiling fan has a light attached. The light bulbs keep burning out. I put a new bulb in and a week later it is burned out. This happens to all three of the lights. Any suggestions as to what can be the problem?
  26 answers
  • Millie Millie on Apr 16, 2016
    I don't know too much about electrical circuitry, but I think I would take the fan down, as I am thinking there is a short in it! Shorts can cause fires. Please be safe!
  • Sti2242965 Sti2242965 on Apr 16, 2016
    Could be a number of things I think, I'm no electrician either but have had similar problems, moisture being one I am sure, and if the bulbs did not sit snug in the fittings then they would arc across the connection (I dont know if that blew them ) , also maybe different surges of power hitting them when the fan is on and off?? As Millie mentioned too about shorts, moisture and/or touching wires can cause this, I have had this problem also, as when I took the fitting down I could see and smell the burnt plastic on the wires
  • Sheila Sheila on Apr 16, 2016
    Is there a cfl bulb in it? These bulbs don't like the vibration of the fan.
    • Mary Mary on Apr 16, 2016
      @Thank You Sheila no Sheila I don't have a cfl bulb in it. I called the company and they advised that I was using the correct bulb for the lights. I think maybe these are just cheaply made bulbs. I have a call into my electrician. Hope he calls soon, as this is my Kitchen light.
  • Jimmy R Jimmy R on Apr 16, 2016
    Make sure your using bulbs made for Fans , the biggest killer is the Vibration Caused by the fan running , even if you are not able to see any Wooble there is still movement caused by the motor Shakes ,, Also make sure the center contact in the bulb receptacles is not pushed all the way down in the base, , it should sit like a 1/4 inch off the bottom ,, an if that doesn't help it's possible the fan an or the Lamp is wired Backwards ,, An as stated above Voltage Spikes will do this as well , an ole time analog voltmeter is far better to test this than the digital ones in my experience,,,
  • Dan Pieniak Dan Pieniak on Apr 16, 2016
    I second Jimmy R's suggestion..... There are bulbs specifically made for ceiling fans. The filament has more support for the vibrations.
  • Chuck Chuck on Apr 16, 2016
    I 3rd the motion.
  • Audrey Trubshaw Audrey Trubshaw on Apr 16, 2016
    That happened to me in the ceiling fixture of my craft room. I called a handy man who found rust in it somewhere up there. He replaced the gizmo that you screw the bulb into and now it works fine. It is dangerous to leave it that way, maybe could start an electrical fire.
  • Phil a Phil a on Apr 16, 2016
    I've used regular bulbs in fans and they've lasted for many years. I've since switched everything over to LED to save energy and reduce heat. Audrey makes a good point. A dirty or loose bulb to socket connection can cause hot spots in the socket. If you hear a sizzling sound when you move the bulb around, that could be an issue. You didn't mention whether you use the pull chains or a remote control on the fan and lights. A failing remote can cause issues. Are any other bulbs in the house burning out? If not, the problem is probably limited to the fan. If yes, you have an electrical problem. If your fan isn't buzzing loudly or jumping all over the place when on, vibration seems unlikely as a cause. I would check the voltage. Light bulbs are over designed to handle a bit more than their rated voltage. If you have a crossed electrical circuit, you could have more voltage at the light sockets than the bulbs can handle for very long. Do they seem brighter when in the fan than they do in another lamp? If you don't feel comfortable checking the voltage, call a handyman or a friend that can and will. Extra high voltage is not only an inconvenience for burned out bulbs, it can be a safety issue. BTW... when changing screw in bulbs, turn them in until they make good electrical contact and then back them out a 1/4 turn or so. This helps prevent them from becoming stuck in the socket and breaking when you try to remove them.
    • Mary Mary on Apr 16, 2016
      @Phil a There is no sizzling or buzzing sounds. They just burn out in a weeks time. One bulb has been in there for 3 months and no problem, but the other 2 bulbs keep burning out. Electrician should be on his way. Thank you.
  • B J  Alexis B J Alexis on Apr 16, 2016
    Is the fan on a dimmer switch? An electrician told me that a dimmer on a fan with lights could cause a burnout of the fan motor, maybe on light bulbs also? I've had lights in some of my fans for years, but no dimmer switches and seldom a burnout.
    • See 1 previous
    • Sheryl Gilliland Sheryl Gilliland on Apr 16, 2016
      @Mary use it in the winter too. The reverse switch is by the fan switch on the fan base. Heat rises and keeps your ceiling warm, but using the fan on low reverse, it keeps the mid air warm. You know where that is, your shoulder and upper back that are always chilly. ;)
  • Jan Munroe Jan Munroe on Apr 16, 2016
    An electrician told me that there are certain bulbs made for downward facing chandeliers and fans..if there is a picture showing the bulb upside down. that is the one to buy. He has me go buy stove bulbs for a fixture I had installed in a rental.
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Apr 16, 2016
    First and foremost, shut it off and call an electrician. Safety first! Protect yourself and your family. It may only be a loose wire, but it could be something else. Best of luck.
    • Mary Mary on Apr 16, 2016
      @Thank You Diana Deiley Thank you Diana for your concern. I do have a call into my electrician who installed the fan and light. Waiting for his call back.
  • Joanne DeYoung Joanne DeYoung on Apr 16, 2016
    I know bulbs for fans are suggested as they stand up to shaking. By the way, are your fan blades balanced?
  • Betsy Woolford Betsy Woolford on Apr 16, 2016
    You should also not use bulbs with a higher wattage than the light fixture calls for. If you use 75 watt bulbs in a 60 watt fixture, the bulbs will blow out sooner. LED lights are a good choice, too.
  • NancyMaria NancyMaria on Apr 16, 2016
    I would check to see if the fan is out of balance (put tape on each and see if they line up when working) and shaking the bulbs to death. Also lots of long-life bulbs can not be used on a dimmer switch. Check that you can change speeds on the fan blades, if you can't the wires are backwards.
  • Sti2242965 Sti2242965 on Apr 17, 2016
    Never occured to me that the bulbs would have filaments in (we don't use them in UK anymore, in the main) Probably easily broken by vibrations
  • Linny Linny on Apr 17, 2016
    Sounds like your wires are crossed, and pulling to much electricity. Call and electrician!
  • Mary Mary on Apr 17, 2016
    I am still waiting for my electrician to call me back. I did make a 1/4 turn on the light bulbs, we'll see what happens with that.
  • Mary Mary on Apr 17, 2016
    Thank you all for your kind suggestions....Much appreciated.
  • JOHN JOHN on Apr 18, 2016
    also, they make "appliance and ceiling fan" bulbs, which take the vibration better
  • Phil a Phil a on Apr 18, 2016
    If the electrician finds the voltage in the lamp sockets higher than normal, have him check the Neutral grounding post in the Breaker Panel for loose Neutral Return wires (usually white or with white tape on one end). If one of the Neutral Return wires is loose and not making good contact, this can cause some very weird electrical problems, including higher than normal voltages in circuits. I've run into this problem where the loose / disconnected Neutral wire in a ceiling light caused issues in another outlet in a different circuit.
  • Metty Design Metty Design on Apr 18, 2016
    This just happened to my daughter, her electrician told her, it's not the wiring. He told her to buy LED bulbs and it won't happen again.
  • Mary Mary on Apr 22, 2016
    1/4 TURN did not work. Burned out again... Electrician is coming over the week-end. Hope he can resolve the mystery for me.
  • Phil a Phil a on Apr 23, 2016
    The 1/4 back turn is to prevent the bulbs from becoming stuck in the socket so they can be easily removed when needed, not to prevent the bulbs from burning out. If an appliance (rough service) bulb fails after a few weeks, then it is not vibration. It must be a voltage issue. LED bulbs can take higher voltage than nominal up to a point. The electrician can tell for sure if it's a voltage issue. If your voltage is over 125 vac in that lamp you have a wiring problem in that circuit.
  • Chi33722000 Chi33722000 on Jul 02, 2018

    I am having the same problem with my Hunter ceiling fans. How was this problem resolved?

  • Sebastiano Di Ravello Sebastiano Di Ravello on Jan 06, 2019

    some bulbs cant be used with dimmers, as i found out

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 16, 2024

    Call in an electrician to give definative answer and to check out all is safe!