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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3586
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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My ceiling fan has a light fixture with three bulbs in it.

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My ceiling fan has a light fixture with three bulbs in it. About a month ago one of the bulbs started flashing on and off. Sometimes it would be fine but other times it would flash off, often staying that way for several minutes. I removed the bulb but haven't gotten around to replacing it. Earlier this week, a second bulb bean to behave the same way. Is this typical of bulbs when they are about to blow? These are the bulbs that have a spiral bulb inside the bulb.

I'm just trying to see if the bulbs could be the problem or if the ceiling fan light fixtures contacts sound like they are failing? Thanks. name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!


1) The type of light bulbs that you are referring that is spiral shaped are CFL (Compact Fluorescent) bulbs.


2) Is the ceiling fan light kit controlled only by the pull chains or do you have a wall switch that controls the light bulbs? If a wall switch, is this a regular ON/OFF switch or is it a dimmer switch?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The wall light switch controls the ceiling fan in addition to the pull chains, but I never use the pull chain to turn the lights on and off. The switch is a regular on and off.

Thanks for the replies Sherri.


1) The reason I was asking about the switch is that a dimmer switch requires dimmable CFL bulbs when using CFL's. Using non-dimmable CFL's with a dimmer switch is a common problem in the industry since CFL's were initially brought to market. But since your switch is a regular ON/OFF switch, then that is not the problem.


2) Flickering lights (no matter what type bulbs) are typically caused by a loose wiring connection or a loose bulb or loose socket not making proper contact. I would recommend to turn the circuit breaker to OFF and inspect the sockets and bulbs to make sure they are snug. If all is good there, then the next step would be to perform a visual inspection of the light kit wiring harness. This will involve removing the light kit and checking for any loose wires. You will have a black and a white wire connecting to each light bulb socket. Depending upon the fan manufacturer, the wiring harness will be connected to all of the light bulb sockets and the wires may either all be spliced together using plastic wire nuts or they may be terminated into a plastic male/female type of connector. Also depending upon the manufacturer, the wiring harness connection may either be at the bottom of the light kit housing or it may be up at the ceiling canopy. Unfortunately, there is no standard on this with all of the fan manufacturers.


3) For starters, I would recommend to check the snugness of the bulbs and the sockets first. Another quick option would be to install 3 new bulbs from a different manufacturer. Possible that the existing bulbs may have originated from a bad batch.


If those are all OK, we can take it from there and move onto the actual wiring harness connection if you like.........Let me know..........Thanks..............Kevin!



Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.


Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.


The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:

Kevin and 2 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you

Hi Sherri........thank you for the excellent service rating..........much appreciated!


If you have any other questions or follow-up questions, just reply back to me at this question. No need to create a new question.


Take care and have a great weekend..............Thanks................Kevin!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I will get some new bulbs tomorrow to try. One quick thing--the bulb that is blinking appears to have some small dark flecks in the bottom of the bulb. Any idea what that could be? The other bulb doesn't have that.

1) That is somewhat common on CFL bulbs that are about to go faulty and completely burn out. I've seen that a few times on my CFL bulbs that I use. Other times, when a CFL is going faulty, there will not be any dark marks on the bottom of the bulb. Although, at the very bottom of the bulb, there will be a slight dimple on the bottom spiral. I've been using CFL's for around 5 years in my home and I've seen both occur. Although, I've seen the small dimple more than I've seen the dark spots.


2) Hopefully, you just got a bad batch of bulbs.......I've been down that road a few times. Try a different brand, maybe Sylvania.

Kevin and 2 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Looks just like this

Thanks for the responses. I appreciate your help.
1) You mentioned that the bulbs are the spiral kind inside, which is another form of a CFL bulb. The dark dimple spot that I mentioned is located on the bottom of the spiral portion. Your bulb is a CFL type, but it is enclosed in glass and the actual bottom of the CFL will not be visible due to it being enclosed. The spots on your picture may be caused from the heat of the bulb carrying over to the glass portion.