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My ceiling fan has 3 light bulb sockets of roughly candelabra bulb size E12 enter image description here

For many years the lights have been unreliable even with new bulbs, frequently flickering on and off spontaneously or when I try to adjust and reset the bulb position.

The socket base contact and the bulb base both show signs of arcing or corrosion damage on some of them enter image description here

Although others seem fine enter image description here

Is this normal? Do I have the wrong bulb type or size? Are the sockets faulty? Can this be repaired both on the bulb and in the socket?

I'm using 40W 120V candelabra bulbs which are burning hot to the touch after just a minute or few of turning the light on.

Given the size of the socket / bulb base, there isn't much room to manoeuvre any tool or cleaning pad inside the socket, or do I need to replace the sockets? I'm not sure the lamp fixture is easy to disassemble, there is very little room to reach tools inside the metal housing.

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Sockets of that type are readily available as lamp components, sold by competent hardware stores and lighting supply stores.

Don't continue running it - that's a mistake given that you know it's defective. Swap the socket for a good one.

Most likely the entire luminaire is an accessory that attaches to the fan hub, so it could come off and be serviced on a bench, or taken in to a lighting supply to be repaired. Note the ventilation holes at the top of the bulb housing; use them to see inside, or if necessary send down a screwdriver. Don't be surprised if the socket is screwed down onto a "hickey" (threaded hollow tube about 1/2" diameter, common in lamp construction).

If the bulb is getting excessively hot, it may be a cheap foreign job, or it may be an obsolete type called an "incandescent" which is basically an electric campfire that also makes some light. Getting modern bulbs should take care of that.

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shut off power get some fine steel wool and jam it down there with a wood dowel and do your best to scrub out the sockets to get them as shiny as possible and make sure to remove the steel wood completely so there are no stray fibers, then install LED bulbs which do not draw that much power or generate as much heat and then cross your fingers.

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