We are in a new-to-us home, and the breakfast nook has a hanging fixture with 5 GU10 (or at least I think they are GU10) bulbs, all in a row. The 4th one has been dark since we moved in so I decided to tackle it earlier today. After much wrasslin' and cussin', I ended up breaking the bulb despite trying the rubber gloves 'push and turn' method. After getting most of it out, glass shards and all, some of it was still left in there so I tried some pliers, only making the problem worse. Left it for another day, but as I was about to close up for the night I dimmed this fixture (the fixture uses a Lutron I believe) and after working as normal for a few minutes there was a sound like something between a loud click and a snap, and the entire fixture went dark. The dimmer switch does not respond at all, and nothing lights up on the little dots in the switch. The breaker panel is all fine, nothing tripped. I am concerned this could be a fire issue, and of course I'd like to get the fixture working again, even with 4 out of 5 bulbs. What is the likely problem? Is the fixture toast, or the dimmer, or both? How do I go about troubleshooting? I've done light electrical work before (and one time, in a foolish prior life, actually added a 20 amp breaker to a box but I won't be trying that again). I do have some tools but before trying anything I thought I'd check here first. Thanks in advance!

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    so, it sounds like you were poking the pliers into a live circuit ... if you did not turn off the breaker before you tried to extract the bulb, then you should be calling an electrician to do the repair and lightbulb extraction, because you may just be lucky to be alive and you should not push your luck any further – jsotola Oct 17 '20 at 6:30
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    You worked on this live, even pushing pliers into a live socket and you wonder why it finally blew something?? Just get a professional as next time it might be your Darwin Award entry. – Solar Mike Oct 17 '20 at 8:19

Just replace the stupid fixture. The entire point of the GU10 was to force people to stop using filament bulbs and replace them with Compact Flourescent bulbs. This was in the days when the cost for CFC was higher than filament and the lifetime was the same as filament so naturally nobody was interested in buying them except California who was struggling with the shortage of generation capacity due to their stupidity in electrical regulation.

Today, with LEDs the Edison-base replacement market -DWARFS- the GU10 market and with LEDs costing the same as filament and the lifetimes of them so much longer, there is no need for goofy sockets to force people to replace lights with LEDs the cost savings and reduced replacement intervals are plenty good enough for that. The final nail in the GU10 socket was when CA stopped requiring them in new construction.

I haven't seen a new GU10 fixture at Home Depot for quite a while now. Everything is Edison-base and the vast majority of LED bulbs are Edison-base. They have a few token GU10's in basic sizes for apartment dwellers stuck with this strange deviation from what has got to be the most foolproof light socket ever designed, but the cost of GU10 bulbs is rising as the demand has been falling and we all know where that vicious circle is headed.

The former owner of the home knew the future of that light in your nook was fixture replacement and left it for you to do. Take your wife shopping at HD and let her pick out a new fixture and get some good husband brownie points for this one.

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    And for crying out loud, the OP needs to turn the breaker off before they work on it! – ThreePhaseEel Oct 17 '20 at 13:55

Thanks all, good comments including pointing out my stupidity. Everything is a learning experience! In my (partial) defense, I did make sure the switch was off. One challenge to turning off the breaker was that I didn't know which breaker it was (I do now, read on).

So I thought, since we don't like the fixture anyway (esthetically as well as practically), and I had a spare, simpler one, I installed that (after turning off ALL breakers to that area of the house).

After installing the new fixture, the light still didn't work, so I replaced the Lutron dimmer with a standard switch, and it lit up. So I guess the dimmer switch burned out. Remember I said that on full on, it was working fine, it was only when I left it in partial position that it popped.

Can anyone tell me why the dimmer popped? I don't need this info now but would be good to know. I will probably buy a new dimmer switch to replace the standard one.

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    Dimmers are (compared to standard switches) complex electronic devices. As such, they are sensitive to surges, such as can happen when there is a short in a fixture. If you get a new dimmer, you need to beware of neutral needs. The old dimmer may or may not have needed neutral. Your standard switch does not need neutral. A new dimmer, particularly to be LED compatible will probably need neutral. If in the process of replacing the dimmer with a regular switch you ended up with an "extra" white wire, that is neutral and you'll be OK. If not, post pictures here and we'll try to help. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Oct 18 '20 at 20:24
  • Thank you. I will try to get to this after work today or tomorrow but I do not recall there being an extra white wire. So I think you are saying that newer dimmers will not work if this is the case? – audiofankk Oct 19 '20 at 21:48
  • I said "will probably" and I meant it. You need to check the installation instructions. Some will make it very clear "needs neutral" or "does not need neutral". For others you will need to look through the details to see. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Oct 19 '20 at 21:53

It may be on an arc fault breaker and if you're not familiar with that type breaker wouldn't notice that it tripped. Another possibility is that it tripped a gfci so you may need to reset any of those thats tripped. Check bathrooms and kitchen area or even outside or garage receptacles. You can disconnect the individual socket from the other 4 in the light fixture itself if you want to keep using it for now.


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