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Old 08-01-2009, 01:58 PM   #1
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Today I was replacing several G4 Halogen bulbs in my ceiling. As I was attempting to pry open the light fixture, the small screwdriver slipped off and I noticed that the light flashed. I did the same several times and each time the light flashed and finally stayed on. I went to two other lights that needed replacing and was able to get a flash of light on each. They didn't stay lit but I didn't flash them as many times as the one that remained on.

It could be a short, but it occurs to light fixtures on two different circuits and not all lights on either circuit are out/not working.

Has anyone else experienced this? Any ideas what is going on?


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Old 08-01-2009, 03:42 PM   #2
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You have closed an open.

If you have bad bulbs and move them sometimes the filaments will touch one another and light momentarily.

Another possibility would be if the bulbs were just loose in the sockets and the power was on. Moving the bulb in this condition would also cause it to light.

I can't think of any way a short would cause the light to come on. Shorts blow fuses.

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Old 08-01-2009, 04:21 PM   #3
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Ed, have you tried testing the socket with a multi-meter? Switch on, then switch off? I think HowieE is probably right about the basics of it.


On edit: you can also test the bulb with the meter, forgot to mention that part of it.

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Old 08-01-2009, 05:14 PM   #4
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This a likely a bad ground. Whenever one of the bulbs go out before you even think about replacing it move the fixture a little bit and if that doesn't work give it a few "love taps". When I had problems in my last trailer this worked almost every time - I only ended up actually having to replace 2 bulbs.
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Old 08-01-2009, 06:55 PM   #5
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This was a trick that oldtimers used to use when a bulb "burned out". When a bulb with a filament quits working, the filament is usually broken. Oldtimers used to lightly "pound" on the light fixtures to try and get the loose ends to short together. Sometimes, after they touched (inside the bulb), they would stay lit until you either turned them off or the fixture encountered a shock big enough to break the connection. They would use this trick to get a burned out light to work until they could get a replacement bulb.

I used to have an old Dodge van that had broken lens covers on both tail light fixtures where my father-in-law had (at different times) "fixed" them. It made me mad both times he crack the lenses, but I laugh everytime I remember how proud he was that he got the tail lights to light up.

Check the bulbs with a multimeter, and if they are "open", just replace the bulbs and don't worry about the flashing. It's just the ghosts of oldtimers playing with you.
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:54 PM   #6
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I'd check for corrosion or looses on the socket. Also the fixture may have the same where it mounts.I agree with Al-K4GLU its a possible bad ground. The majority of problems with 12 volt lighting systems are grounds. Touch the srewdriver where it contacts the bulb and the socket at the same time. if the light works it is the ground.
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:32 PM   #7
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If the switch is wired across the ground wire rather than the hot wire, grounding the fixture with a screwdriver might turn the light on. Sounds unlikely to me, but it could happen. Check the switch to see if the ground wire is wired into it rather than the hot wire. Switches are supposed to switch the hot wire, but mistakes are made.

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Old 08-01-2009, 10:53 PM   #8
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Hi, the bulbs are bad and the filiments are making and breaking contact. Continue replacing these bulbs, you were right in the first place. Don't get all confused about shorts, opens, or grounds.

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Old 08-02-2009, 07:05 AM   #9
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Well, The two bulbs that mysteriously came on are still on. Others, I had to replace. I wasn't able to determine for sure what the cause was. From the way they were behaving it seems that ROBERTSUNRUS's idea was the most likely.

The trip into Chaco Canyon This past May apparently broke more than a few interior rivets.

I will be replacing most interior lights with LED's soon anyway.

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