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Are Your Light Bulbs Blowing When Switched On?

LED Light BulbIn the current climate, we are seeing an increasing number of people switching to LED light bulbs and there are several reasons for this.

Firstly, is the fact that prices for LED bulbs continues to reduce, also, LED bulbs annual operation costs are far than any other technology, add energy efficiency to the mix, and it’s a simple choice to make the switch.

However, as electrician professionals, we are also aware that LED light bulbs do not suffer from the same durability issues associated with their predecessor, such as the tendency to suddenly blow out or explode. If you’re using older (non-LED) bulbs and find that they are suddenly blowing out often prematurely, then it’s essential to find out what’s going on.

The more obvious solution would be to switch over to LED bulbs, however, caution is key and so it is an issue should be investigated by a professional and qualified electrician.

Here are some of the most common reasons for light bulbs blowing out.

So Why Does a Light Bulb Suddenly Explode?

Light Bulbs BlowingThere are numerous reasons why a bulb suddenly explodes, however, one of the most common is poor insulation. Many cheap lightbulb manufacturers are trying to cut costs, and one way of doing that is to strip down the insulation to the bare minimum.

When the insulation is of low quality and thickness, it can cause the metal base to melt when left on for an extended period.

As the metal starts to melt, it raises the temperature within the bulb, which in turn causes the gas within the bulb to start leaking, leading to a pressure imbalance causing a small explosion (even though small, it can be dangerous). Our advice is to use bulbs from trusted brands or switch to LED lightbulbs if possible.

Why Do New Light Bulb Sometimes Explode?

There are many cases of new lightbulbs suddenly exploding, and there is often a good reason for this occurrence. Some domestic electrical fixtures are only designed to accommodate a certain type of light bulb based on its wattage. If a higher wattage is associated with the light bulb being used, for example, it’s higher than the fixture’s limit, then the fixture will overheat rapidly, causing an explosion.

Fortunately, recommended bulb wattages are printed on the light socket. If you can’t see the wattage recommendation printed on the socket, always contact the manufacturer to find out or switch to a lower wattage bulb.

Why do Bulbs Sometimes Blow as Soon as They are Switched on?


There are instances when light bulbs explode as soon as they switched on, this is often caused by a loose connection between the socket and the bulb. Usually, when the connection is loose, the electrical current hops from the metal contact on the bulb instead of normally flowing through it.

As it is referred to, the so-called hopping or arcing causes the fitting to become hot, leading to an explosion. Fortunately, these explosions can be prevented by screwing your bulb in tightly. If you hear strange noises when the bulb is on, turn it off and recheck the connection. If those sounds persist, call an electrician to examine and, if needed, change the socket.

Unexplained Bulb Explosions

Sometimes a bulb will suddenly explode for no apparent reason, however, there is always a reason, for example, oil and sweat from a human hand can (and often does) leave a residue on the bulb which creates a hotspot, leading to possible cracking when the bulb starts to heat up.

As we know, when a bulb gets hot, it can overheat and the gas will start to leak out, leading to an explosion. That’s why it’s strongly advised to wear gloves or wash your hands before changing the lightbulb.

You should never attempt to change a lightbulb with sweaty hands. Most people will never notice a cracked bulb, but the bulb explodes as soon as they switch it on.

Safety is paramount, even when changing a light bulb, they can be dangerous and that’s why you should never switch a bulb on when you are standing directly underneath it or looking straight at it.

Light Bulbs Continually Exploding?

Light Bulb FilamentIf you are using a filament lightbulb, it will only take a small amount of excessive voltage to reduce the lifespan of the filament, and that will cause it to blowout. We are not talking about explosions, but the lightbulb not working after maybe a week of buying it. Usually, this is caused by excessive heat, often a result of high voltage or high voltage for a sustained period which causes the filament to blowout.

High voltages are tricky to deal with, even for experienced electricians, however, it is important to have a qualified professional troubleshoot the cause of sudden spikes or sustained high currents.

Another consideration is to understand that many filaments in light bulbs are extremely delicate and often cheaply made, so, vibrations, even those from nearby appliances can be enough to cause the filament to snap resulting in a the bulb blowing quickly and continuously. This is certainly when you should consider switching to LED light bulbs.

Our final on this is that if you believe that there is an issue with light bulbs in your property, never try and troubleshoot the issue yourself, call your local electrician and put safety first.


Andrew Burns is the Managing Director of W Burns & Son (Electrical), he is the 3rd generation to have taken over the Sheffield based business which is now over 80 years old.