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What Causes a Light Bulb to Explode?

Light bulbs always seem to blow at the most inopportune moments. You’re sitting in a room, perhaps relaxing after a long day, and suddenly the lights go out. Burned out light bulbs are an annoying inconvenience, but they usually have a simple fix. Exploding light bulbs can indicate a more serious problem and require prompt and cautious attention. 

So what actually causes light bulbs to explode? Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why this frightening phenomenon happens.

  • Lack of Insulation at the Base of the Bulb
    Sometimes, light bulb manufacturers don’t use enough insulation in the light bulb base. A lack of insulation at the base of a light bulb will cause the metal base to melt. When the base melts, the gas stored in the bulb can leak out. The leaking gas causes a pressure imbalance which can result in the light bulb exploding.
  • Loose Connection in the Socket
    A loose connection between the bulb and the socket can also be a reason for a bulb exploding. A loose connection causes the electricity to jump across the contact rather than flowing through it. This can lead to the fitting becoming overheated, which can cause the bulb to blow or explode. The solution here is simple: tighten light bulbs in their sockets until they are snug.
  • Mismatched Bulb Wattage
    You may not know that light fixtures are designed to operate with light bulbs with certain wattage ratings. If a bulb exceeds its fixture’s wattage limit, then the fixture can overheat, putting the bulb at risk of exploding. The recommended light bulb wattage for your light fixture should be printed on the label on the side of the socket. If it’s not there, you may want to contact the manufacturer or just use the lowest possible wattage light bulb in the fixture.
  • Oil From Your Hands
    When you touch a bulb with your hands, you probably don’t consider that the oil from your skin could cause a light bulb to explode. Halogen bulbs are particularly sensitive to skin oils. When a halogen bulb is switched on, the oil you leave on the surface heats up and creates a hot spot. As the oil continues to heat up, cracks can start to appear, which can then lead to gas leaking out of the bulb.

The leaked gas can eventually cause the light bulb to explode. If you see cracks emerging in a light bulb, turn off the fixture and remove the bulb quickly and carefully.

Get Help With Exploding Light Bulbs

Have you noticed the lights in your home flickering, exploding, or frequently burning out? Your local Mr. Electric® has the expert lighting solutions you’re looking for. Call us at (844) 866-1367 today to get all your lighting questions and concerns answered. You can also schedule an appointment online.

Having issues with your oven light? Check out some helpful tips from Mr. Appliance to figure out what's going on with your faulty oven light. Mr. Appliance is part of the Neighborly family of home service providers, so you can count on them for the best advice for all appliance-related concerns.