Exploding Light Bulbs

Dear NH,
We have had two incidents of a light bulb exploding in our bathroom light fixture. Both times, luckily, no one was in the room. I'm assuming that the light must have been on for some time, but I'm not sure. Is this common? Is the problem the light fixture or the bulb? How can we prevent it from happening again?
CK from Northfield, MN

It's typically the bulb, not the fixture. Poor quality, off-brand bulbs are prone to failing in a spectacular fashion. It has something to do with the way they handle the surge of power that occurs at the moment of filament failure.

Though having overly high voltage in your home (you can find this out from your power company) can cause premature burnouts in bulbs, if the problem is localized to a specific type of bulb in a specific fixture it's even more likely to be the bulb. Bursting can also occur when a hot bulb is exposed to moisture, though from your description this doesn't seem to fit your situation.

You could try using a "long life" bulb, which typically is a bulb rated for 130 volts instead of the typical 110 volts your home should be receiving. That will compensate for voltage surges if they are a contributing factor.

In my experience, you are always better off using only "name brand" bulbs, especially in critical locations. See if the results improve.

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