The ceiling fan is over 30 years old worked flawlessly until now, light either blinks or shuts off altogether. But, when you turn the wall switch off then back on it lights up no problem for days, then back to it. Also, the wall switch has been replaced thinking it was the culprit, but to no avail... This fan is in my elderly mother's home, which she will be 90 in Dec. But the fan is in the kitchen above the table ...

  • I would turn off the light at the wall switch and open up the light housing to check the light's wiring, connections, switch, and socket. Any of these could be the problem. I'd use skills from years of do-it-yourself work at my home, and possibly a variety of tools, but if you don't have both, it would be safer to hire an electrician, or get a handyman friend's help. – getterdun Nov 9 '13 at 7:17
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    Have you tried changing the bulb? Sometimes the filament will break, but lay on it's support so that it still illuminates. Then heat or vibration will cause it to break the connection so it fails to illuminate. The bulb cools, the connection is re-established, and the cycle continues. – bcworkz Nov 9 '13 at 7:23
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    In addition to @bcworkz suggestion, sometimes a bulb is just making poor contact. Heat and vibration can cause an intermittent connection, and just a slight tightening may help. Also fans do better with fan bulbs which have filaments that are more resistant to vibration. – bib Nov 9 '13 at 17:59

Filament a likely culprit, but is the fan perfectly balanced? We all assume not perfectly. Bad connections, even good ones, break with enough movement over time. Potential chain of events:

Power on - rush of power bridges air gap, or gap doesn't exist, connection holds together

Running - something gets hot or vibrates loose, loses connection

Stop - cooling or lack of vibration allows physical gap to close enough so that...

Power on - rush of power bridges air gap, connection holds together, repeat

The connection could be filament to post, switch to wiring, internal in the fan, the place where a rat ate away connection material, anywhere in the current loop really, but filament, switch, and internal to fan are my top three suspects.


On old fixtures I have found the center contact to be the problem many times. With the power off remove the lamp, use a small screwdriver to lift the center contact about 1/8" replace lamp and see if that fixes it. If lifting the center contact fails next I would be looking at the wiring on the fan, the switches used in fans even old ones are usually quite cheap and can fail as a loose connection also. I would check the socket first as this is quick & easy and has solved a large number of light fixture problems for me in the past.

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