I'll lead with saying I'm not a handy man. I'm not an eletrician. That said, light bulbs in our house do burn out in various places fairly fast. The issue at hand here though is the ceiling fan in my master bedroom. If I flip the light switch on the wall to turn the fan on, the turns on just fine. It may work for a few minutes or even a few hours. One thing is certain: before morning, the circuits will blow and it will smell like something is or was burning. I've put tape over the light switch since we don't know if the issue is the fan itself or something more extensive than that.

I'm not sure if it possible with this information, but would replacing the fan resolve the issue? Some folks I've talked to (not professionals...just family) think it may be the fan motor.

One last thing. The wall switch next to the one that controls the fan will turn the fan light on and off. This works fine and has caused no issues.

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    How do you control the speed of the fan? Is the light switch a dimmer? Jul 22, 2018 at 6:11
  • through the chain on the fan itself. Light switch isn't a dimmer.
    – jason
    Jul 22, 2018 at 13:28
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    Let's back up to the part where your light bulbs burn out fairly fast. Are they dim in other places? Can you tell us more about that? Jul 22, 2018 at 15:16
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    The "some bulbs burn out quickly" problem smells an awful lot like a lost neutral. Probably fairly far upstream, either at your meter or even at the utility transformer you share with other customers. I would be checking my voltages a lot, every day. A datalogger would not be excessive. If I'm right, a lost neutral would explain a lot of other problems. Jul 22, 2018 at 17:07
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    As @Harper states, a lost neutral is a serious issue, causing one leg of split 120-0-120 VAC to drop in voltage while the other leg increases. It causes the risk of shock (because the neutral will not be at ground) and possibly fire, if appliances overheat. A common cause is a break at the service drop of the neutral (often bare aluminum) wire. See inspectapedia.com/electric/Electrical_Service_Drop.php Jul 24, 2018 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


I can't say for sure what the issue was. I did go ahead and replace the fan with a new one based on the logic that the fan light can stay on for nearly ever, which made me think the issue was the fan motor itself.

I still don't have any answers on the light bulbs going out fast. I have a small hope that maybe the bad fan was causing some kind of imbalance in the house, but I have no idea if that makes sense or not from a technical perspective.

In either case, the new fan seems to be working quite well and so do the 2 outlet switches - one for the light, one for the fan.

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