I have a wall fixture in my Brooklyn apartment's bathroom that is my only source of light. A sticker on the fixture says that it is Max 75W. The other day, the 14W / 60W equivalent CFL that was in it since I moved in burned out and I had to replace it. Since it is my only source of light in the room and it is 2015, I bought a 13W / 75W equivalent LED bulb to go in it, the highest I could find at the local hardware store. No problem, right? A 13W bulb is way lower than 75W.**

The strangest thing is, when I screwed in the new bulb, the light refused to work. When I screwed in a larger CFL, say a 20W / 75W equivalent, it also refused to work. Only when I screwed in another 14W / 60W equivalent CFL did it finally work. All brand new bulbs that work in other sockets around the apartment.

Does anyone know what might be behind this? Should I get an electrician in to check this out, or are some light fixtures just not compatible with LEDs?

** Ref: Can I put a 75 watt equivalent led bulb in a fixture that says 60 watts max?

  • 3
    Any dimmers or maybe a timer that operates the light? Also some LED/CF lights have a start up time (sometimes up to two seconds) which has can make us think that a light is not working. 2 seconds is an eternity when we are used to instant.
    – diceless
    Apr 28, 2015 at 20:53
  • @diceless No dimmers. The "start up" time is a good point. I will try that and write back. However, the same LED in another lamp elsewhere in the apartment turned on instantly.
    – Colin
    Apr 28, 2015 at 20:58
  • 11
    The only other thing I can think of, ballast/transformer section of the bulb might be too big for the fixture preventing it from making a good contact in the socket.
    – diceless
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:20

2 Answers 2


I found the answer! diceless set me on the right track in looking at where the foot of the bulb is connecting to the fixture.

Since it was an older fixture (installed in the 80's, I think), the hot contact (Number 1 in this diagram ) was bent down, and it was connecting with the smaller bulb but not the bigger LED bulb.

With the circuit turned off at the breaker I reached in with a wooden tongue depressor and bent it upwards slightly. Then, I made sure to screw the LED bulb in tightly. Flicking the switch it was bright as day!

  • Did you mean to say "Number 1" or "Number 2" instead of "Number 3"? Number three should not be hot; it should be neutral and I don't see how you could adjust it with a tongue depressor.
    – Paul
    May 4, 2015 at 13:35
  • 1
    @Paul Yes, #1. Corrected.
    – Colin
    May 5, 2015 at 17:45
  • 1
    I had the same issue with a lamp that had three bulbs; my LED bulbs would work in two, but not in the third (I could get CFL and incandescent bulbs to work, however). This solution worked perfectly for me.
    – M. Justin
    May 18, 2016 at 14:59
  • 2
    This has worked for me on more than one occasion. For some reason, LED bulbs tend to have slightly less depth -- but they are likely to work if you bend up the contact in the base of the socket. Dec 10, 2016 at 23:42

I had the same problem with LED bulbs not working in a socket that an incandescent bulb worked. After making sure that the the circuit breaker was off, or the lamp was unplugged, I inserted a pair of thin pliers into the socket and pulled the bottom contact a little. After that, an LED bulb worked fine.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.