Light bulbs are relatively cheap and fragile, and a few prematurely burnt-out bulbs can often be attributed to simple bad luck. But if you start noticing a pattern of one, two or even all of your light sockets going through bulbs faster than they should, you may be facing an electrical issue that should be resolved both for your own safety and for your budget. These four steps will help walk you through the process of finding and fixing the problem with your light socket.
Correctly Screwing in a Light Bulb
It may sound like the start of a bad joke, but it is possible to incorrectly install a light bulb and many people are not aware of their own bad habits. Screwing the bulb in too tightly compresses and may even break a small tab located along its bottom, which can begin conducting electricity inappropriately and destroy the bulb over a much shorter-than-normal lifespan. When you install your bulbs, twist them gently into place until the bulb is snug but still able to twist and wiggle slightly.
Checking the Flow of Electricity to Your Sockets and Outlets
In some cases, your bulbs may be burning out because they are receiving more electricity than they are designed to handle. Most modern homes and appliances in the United States follow a 120V system, but that number is more of an estimate than a precise figure, and your home's electrical system may be carrying a significantly stronger signal. You can check this by using an electric meter on an outlet in the room with the offending socket, following all safety protocols in the process. If the reading comes back higher than 120 volts, it is likely the reason your fragile bulbs keep burning out. A professional electrician will be able to help you get your power flow back under control.
Testing the Consistency of Your Power Flow
Bad wiring is typically a lazy response to any electric problem, but it may actually be the culprit behind your faulty sockets. Loose wires have more difficulty regulating the flow of electricity, allowing brief surges followed by periods of relative inactivity. Larger appliances can handle these minor variations, but they put too much stress on individual light bulbs and can lead to rapid failure. If you notice that the problem only affects one socket, or if the light has a tendency to flicker, this may be the issue. Thankfully, a quick rewiring should be all it takes to correct the situation.
Ruling Out Environmental Factors
When nothing else seems to be responsible, double check that the bulb is not overheating or being exposed to undue vibrations. Both of these environmental factors can be harmful to bulbs, and you may not even realize that they are present until you feel the hot air surrounding the bulb or watch it rattle in its socket. If you really cannot find the issue on your own, or you are worried about your own safety while working with electricity, call your local electrical contractor to have the trouble assessed and then repaired by a professional.