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Simple question

I have a light fixture in the bathroom that have 3 bulbs in 3 sockets Today I noticed that one bulb went off

I Squeezed it a little in the socket and it went on again

Same issue happened again few hours later, and the socket seemed a bit tricky,if I squeeze the bulb too much it goes off again

So my question, is it the bulb or socket that is at fault And if it is the socket, is this urgent, do I need to repair the socket soon

the light bulb is LED if that makes any difference (led bulbs should last 10 years, this one is around 2 or 3 years old)

** the comment from K H, was the answer **

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    Switch the bulb with another. Does the problem still happen? If so, not the bulb. It's also not clear what you mean by squeeze. You should be able to screw the bulb in fully and if further wiggling turns it on and off the socket is suspect.
    – K H
    May 13, 2021 at 8:49
  • Thanks all for the answers and comment, I will try switching bulbs around and see if it change anything I will in an apartment building And a couple of year ago the main electrical box (the one downstairs, not in the apartment) had issue, and was causing bulbs to burn quickly, and blink randomly in the apartment I am a bit afraid, that the same box or the same issue was starting to creep in again If the bulb is the issue, I will take it as indication, that the same issue is returning again If it is the fixture, I will be less sure
    – Ali
    May 13, 2021 at 12:59
  • Also to clarify what I meant by squeeze, I meant turn the bulb in the socket Sometimes when I turn it tighter it would go off, It was not clear how tight was correct for the socket
    – Ali
    May 13, 2021 at 13:01
  • Hi all, its clear to me that its 100% the bulb I switch it to another socket and its doing the same thing I will monitor the situation in the house, if more bulbs do the same thing, then we surely have the same issue from couple of years ago Thanks all
    – Ali
    May 13, 2021 at 14:11

3 Answers 3

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You're performed a test of switching bulbs with another, and the problem follows the bulb, making it quite likely the bulb is the problem. There could be a loose connection or as some LED bulbs contain electronic drive circuits, the electronics could be failing intermittently.

Just a word to the wise about LED bulbs: They vary hugely in quality and ratings are not particularly consistent between brands. They are designed based on Mean Time Before Failure(MTBF) so if you design based on a 10 year MTBF, some will fail before then and some will last longer. Based on the number I've had die before their lifespan, it's also possible that the actual MTBF may be even lower if they believe only a small number of people will return a 10 year bulb that lasted 8 years. I've had not particularly few die inside two years and my area isn't subject to dirty power or other additional wear factors.

One other note, in the north American market, quality doesn't correlate well with cost. If you see a $20 dimmable 60W equivalent and a 12 pack of dimmable 60W equivalents for $1.50 each at a big box store, the cheaper bulbs are often just as good or superior and still Underwriters Lab or CSA approved as appropriate for my area. I would however be more cautious with suspiciously cheap online product.

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Bulbs don't really fail intermittently. 99.9% it's your socket that wants replacing.

And, yes, I would do it soon, because intermittent contacts like this can in rare circumstances cause fires due to arcing. This is extremely unlikely on a low-current device like an LED bulb, but it wants addressing sooner rather than later.

As pointed out in the comments, though, it's a simple matter to swap with another bulb and see if the fault follows the bulb or stays with the socket.

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    Sorry to disagree, These are LED bulbs, which can display many erratic behaviors such as blinking, dimming, flicking, etc. LEDs are electronic devices. May 13, 2021 at 16:19
  • True, but changing with pressure on the socket is just about guaranteed to be a failure of the socket.
    – SiHa
    May 13, 2021 at 18:30
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Sometimes the tip of a bulb doesn't make good contact with the hot terminal at the bottom of the socket. This can happen with any bulb but some LEDs are more prone to it because the plastic body between the base and the lens is shaped in a way that prevents the bulb from screwing down far enough. If you have this problem it's hard to tell if it's "the bulb" or "the socket". It's both.

Sometimes you can fix it by bending up the terminal at the bottom of the socket, if you know how to do that without electrocuting yourself. Don't try if you're not sure and don't rely on just turning off the light switch. Sometimes if the socket has an unnecessary plastic or cardboard sleeve that rises up too high you can shave that down. Sometimes screwing the bulb in more firmly can help but if it does, sometimes when it heats up everything moves enough to make the problem come back.

I've thrown out both bulbs and fixtures that were prone to this problem. Early LEDs (years ago) particularly had chunky bases that got in the way. I haven't seen much of that recently.

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