Home & Garden Architecture

The Warning Signs of a Fire with CFL Dimmers

    Smoke at the Bulb

    • The most common sign of a fire caused by a dimmer switch controlling a CFL bulb is smoke coming from the fixture into which the bulb is installed. If the bulb is screwed into a recessed lighting fixture in your ceiling, this may appear as smoke coming from the edge of your ceiling or ceiling tiles, or it may come directly out of the fixture. The smoke may also begin to rise from around the base of the bulb, especially if it is used in a lamp. If you see this type of smoking and are able to cut power to the light fixture, do so immediately.

    Smoke Alarm

    • You may not see the smoke that comes from a CFL bulb that is about to catch fire, especially in dim lighting or if your light fixtures are recessed into your ceiling; however, your smoke detector may catch this type of smoke. If your smoke detector goes off while your lights are dimmed and nothing in the kitchen seems to be burning, cut power to the lights and investigate. If you have doubts, you may want to call the non-emergency line for your local fire department to ask that they visit your home.

    Popping Noise and Strange Smell

    • When a CFL bulb fails, it can emit a loud popping noise and an unusual odor. If you notice these symptoms, and especially if you notice this happening to several bulbs in the same room, you should consider it a warning that something could be wrong. It is important to remember, though, that CFL bulbs do wear out eventually, and if you replaced several bulbs in the same room at the same time they could be wearing out simultaneously.

    Light Bulbs Going Out

    • The safest possible way that a CFL bulb will respond to being on a dimmer switch is to simply stop working. If you notice that you are replacing your CFL bulbs in a certain room or for a certain fixture much more frequently that you expected, you may have narrowly avoided a house fire. If you know that the light in question uses a dimmer switch, it is important to purchase a CFL that is designed to work with dimmers. If you don't know of any dimmer switch in that area, you should call an electrician to investigate possible power problems in your electrical system.

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