Your nose knows.
If you smell something burning and it’s coming from your light fixture don’t ignore it.
If a light fixture gives off a burning smell, disconnect the fixture until you have determined the source of the odor. Overheating electrical wires and devices often emit a burning smell. Don’t use the fixture again until it has been repaired by a professional. A fluorescent fixture may have a ballast that has failed and is spilling tar.
For typical incandescent light fixtures, the burning smell may occur if you’re using an over-sized bulb or a higher wattage than is recommended for that fixture. Check the rating of the fixture and the wattage of the bulb. Never exceed the wattage recommended.
You might also have a loose electrical connection at the splice, or a loose screw or lamp base. A loose connection can create excessive resistance to electrical flow, and the resistance causes heat. Excessive heat can make metal connections expand and contract, loosening them further. This heat can damage insulation and even start a fire.
You might also have a loose electrical connection at the splice or in the outlet box, or a loose screw or lamp base. A loose connection can create excessive resistance to electrical flow, and the resistance causes heat. Excessive heat makes metal connections expand and contract, loosening them further. This heat can damage insulation and even start a fire. Sometimes, when such excessive heat melts plastic, the problem area emits a misleading “dead animal” smell.
If you notice any strong smells near outlets, electrical boxes, or light fixtures, these may be due to an electrical problem. Call an electrician to evaluate and fix the problem. In the meantime, do not use electrical power in that area.
Bob Beisbier, owner of BK Home Inspections, is a Certified Master Home Inspector who has been providing professional and thorough home inspections in southeast Wisconsin for over 12 years. Bob is Infrared certified, DILHR Certified, and provides Home Energy Tune-ups, Environmental Data Reports, Pre-sale Home Inspections and Pre-offer Home Inspections.
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