We've had a flaky light fixture in our bathroom for years. It has 3 bulbs in it. Sometimes one of the bulbs would not turn on for a bit, then turn on again later. This week the fixture doesn't turn on at all. I swapped the bulbs for other bulbs in the house and the bulbs in the fixture all work elsewhere.

I believe the issue is the fixture, but before I go through the effort to buy a new one, what can I do to more conclusively determine if the issue is the fixture, the switch, or some other problem?

  • 1
    Do you have a non contact voltage tester? A multimeter? Nov 2, 2022 at 14:41
  • I do have a multimeter. I think I have a non contact one but not 100% sure how well it works.
    – Steve V
    Nov 2, 2022 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


There are many ways to do this. Turn off the breaker during setup when appropriate.

  • Check the fixture connections. Could be simply a faulty wire nut installation.

  • Open the switch box. Remove the wires from the screws and connect them with a wire nut. Turn the breaker back on and tap on the fixture to see if there's any result, such as flickering.

  • Disconnect the fixture. Attach something else, such as an outlet tester, by poking the wires through the holes in the plug prongs. Bend the wires a bit so spring action keeps them from shorting if it falls apart. Turn on the breaker and test the switch.


Assuming it has the traditional screw-in lights, it's possible the center contact isn't making contact with your bulbs consistently (especially since you said that the behavior didn't always impact every bulb at the same time). Turn off the circuit breaker to the fixture (and also make sure the switch is off to be doubly safe), and use a small screwdriver to gently pry up the center fixture contact for each bulb a bit so it can make more solid contact with the bulbs.

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