When a light fixture goes dark, what’s your first thought? Do you check to make sure all the circuits are working and that the rest of the house has electricity? If there’s no power outage, is your next step to grab a replacement bulb? If popping in a new bulb without taking the time to find the right one is your standard operating procedure (like it is for many, many people), you could be putting your home at risk for a fire.
Did you know that each year fire departments handle 51,000 house fires caused by electrical issues? A whopping 15% of those are caused by lighting solutions such as permanently installed fixtures or freestanding lamps. The best way to avoid adding to that number is by making sure you never overlamp in your light fixtures.
What is Overlamping a Light Fixture?
Why is overlamping such a bad idea? Overlamping is the term used for lighting used with a bulb that is over the maximum wattage for that fixture. Every lamp and light fixture has a maximum wattage listed that reflects the amount of heat the unit can handle. When an over-watt bulb is put into a lower wattage light, the result is extra heat with nowhere to go.
A hot bulb can be a hazard, even without a fire. All the extra heat tends to go into the bulb’s glass, but when it reaches critical temperatures, it may ignite surrounding items such as curtains or dust. The oil from your fingers can react with the hot glass and send it shattering in all directions.
When a bulb gets too hot, it may ignite parts of the fixture, particularly any plastic pieces. In a worst-case scenario, the heat might work up the wiring and into the walls. A fire that starts behind the wall is often terrible as it may take longer for you to notice a problem.
Why Would You Overlamp?
Well, maybe you’ve noticed it gets pretty dark in the living room, even with all of the lights on. It might seem like a good idea to grab a brighter bulb. And, that’s not a bad idea as long as the light fixture can handle the extra electricity.
Even LED bulbs, which typically provide light at much lower temperatures, can get hot to the touch when used in the wrong light.
Safety Measures to Avoid House Fires
Having regular inspections of your wiring and electrical receptacles can go a long way toward helping you avoid the devastation of a house fire. At Electrical Pros, our state-licensed electricians can look at all of your major systems and give you an action plan to correct any upcoming problems. Fixes might range from replacing an outlet here or there to fixing some mismatched bulbs to more complex solutions.
If you have any concerns about your wiring or light fixtures, contact us today at 770-822-2150. Many of our services come with a lifetime guarantee to give you peace of mind for years to come.