burned, melted metal where pendant lightbulb touched

I pulled out the pendant light bulb that was hanging at the center of this metal framed Turkish style lamp. The light bulb touched the metal frame and there was a sudden explosive sound, burning smell and you can see at the top center in the pic, the metal got burned and melted. The light bulb was still on. I turned the light off and on again to test it. The lightbulb switches on no problem, but now the dimmer is not working. Anybody know what broke and what I need to buy and do to fix this?

  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. What part of the bulb touched the frame? And, what kind of dimmer are you using? – Daniel Griscom Oct 21 '18 at 13:55

You have probably burnt out the dimmer due to the inrush of current during the short and I am guessing the on/off switch on the dimmer is mechanical and didn't burn out. The common cure for this is to replace the dimmer. When you do that you need to connect it up with the power off. Then turn the power on an see if everything is working.

Good luck

  • Thank You; Will try this and report back here! – Musicon Oct 21 '18 at 13:57
  • Solid state dimmers usually fail in a short condition and later if the current is high enough it blows the junction open, so as 3 phase has answered the dimmer needs to be replaced. – Ed Beal Oct 22 '18 at 13:40

What happened is, hot (supply) got shorted to Equipment Safety Ground, and caused massive electrical current (enough to do some welding). This current flowed through the dimmer. This killed the dimmer dead. It may have stuck in the "on" position.

Most likely the short was not the bulb proper, but rather, your changing the position of the socket so it was able to touch the metal chassis of the fixture.

The bigger problem is: shorting to Equipment Safety Ground shouldn't cause welding to happen. Looking at your lamp it's perfectly clear why: your safety ground is a chain. Chains don't conduct electricity reliably.

So while it's good to take the lamp apart and fix whatever the socket problem is -- it's much more urgent to fit a proper ground wire that runs up a chain (sorta like the power cord does). They make ground wires specifically for lamps, in a variety of hide-me colors.

Had the chain not carried the current, it would have instead electrified the fixture. This could have caused something analogous to an electrical drowning, where the electrical shock only stuns you and falling off the ladder breaks your neck (because you are not conscious to manage your fall).

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