Return to the Electrical Wiring Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

Posted by Mag_Ben (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 26, 13 at 10:50

Hi, I've been reading the amazing forums here for years, and I finally registered because I need advice on the usual subject: something that scares me. :)

I have a ceiling fixture in a hallway in my apartment with two small bulb sockets. One of the two sockets stopped working years ago. I never had it fixed. I've continued to use the light occasionally with just the one bulb lit. Finally, that bulb died recently.

I've just listed my apartment for sale and wanted to show that there is current to the fixture, as well as providing light in the hallway for visitors. I also wanted to double-check that the other socket really was bad. I put my one and only spare bulb in that socket, flipped the switch on, and the bulb barely flickered and died. (Wouldn't work in the other socket after that, of course. I looked at the bulb and it has a broken filament.)

My question to you is: Do I need to worry about this fixture since I used it in this condition for years? Or is it something hazardous that should not be used? Might it even have been the culprit that fried the neutral in my circuit box four years ago? (EDIT: I have removed the photo of the fried neutral, which I shouldn't have included in the first place. Its impact was way out of proportion to its relevance and it probably served only as unintended red meat.)

Thanks for any advice!

This post was edited by Mag_Ben on Mon, Jan 28, 13 at 8:44


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

Yes, it should be fixed especially if you are selling the apartment.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

Thanks. Yes, ideally it should be fixed, but my home sale is a strictly as-is proposition and this fixture is a footnote to the long list of repairs and renovations the buyer will have to undertake, including other electrical issues such as insufficient outlets for most people's lifestyles these days. My purpose in posting was to try to find out whether, for safety reasons, I should give up trying to replace the bulb in the working socket, and not use the fixture, and possibly tape the wall switch so shoppers don't try to turn it on. As stated, the fixture has been used in its present condition for many years. I'm a little nervous that by attempting to put a bulb in the bad socket I may have made something worse, but everything else on that circuit is still working.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

AS IS doesn't won't exonerate you from life-safety defects no matter how much disclosure you claim to be making. It's one thing to leave an ugly or damaged safe fixture there, but one that has burned wiring is inexcusable. I'd suggest you go to the home center and buy the cheapest fixture you can buy and replace it.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

"Claim to be making"? "Inexcusable"? Hostile much? Good grief.

Friendly and informative responses about the specific electrical issues raised by my post will be appreciated and acknowledged. All else will be ignored from this point. Even if you don't care to be civil, please remember this is the Electrical Wiring forum, not a real estate forum.

I'm self-conscious about being a newbie here, so I don't want to come across as inflexible; sorry if that's the case. But I'm not into arguing, and even if I were, I wouldn't take time for it today--I'm preparing for an open house tomorrow. I need to make a simple decision right now: go out and buy more bulbs or put away the ladder and tape the switch?

This post was edited by Mag_Ben on Sat, Jan 26, 13 at 12:22


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

@Ronnatalie: An example of "informative" would be clarifying what you meant by "one that has burned wiring." Do you mean that you believe the wiring within the fixture is "burned" or are you implying that you believe this fixture may have fried my neutral as shown in the picture? (Again, I should emphasize that was discovered FOUR YEARS AGO. The entire circuit breaker box was replaced at that time. The cause of the burned neutral was not investigated and is unknown.)

This post was edited by Mag_Ben on Sat, Jan 26, 13 at 12:43


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

If that is wiring in the fixture or junction box behind the fixture it appear it was 'over-lamped' at some point and the insulation is rather toasted.

If you try to tape up or use heat shrink on the individual wires, make sure you test every one of them to a known ground for voltage with a volt meter.

There could be more than one circuit present.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

I would fix this and make sure it is safe. I also do not think anyone here was trying to do anything but throw a red flag so that your butt is covered.

Either fix it or fully disclose it just like it is and make sure it is documented. I feel you will be money ahead to fix it.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

New fixture. Not going to cost a ton. If the wiring is damaged, you're going to have to deal with it. As others said, your disclosure does not absolve you from your moral and legal obligations. You cannot contract outside the law.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

Real estate is sold "as is" in most places. In my state, a seller has the obligation to disclose any problems or issues he is aware of - but is not obligated to ascertain all problems and issues that exist.

Since you know about this, were this in my state, disclosure would legally clear you of any liability to fix or repair consequential damages, because the sale would be as is and your disclosure tells how it is. I agree with others, it would probably be better to just have it fixed.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

@brickeyee can you explain "over-lamped"? I'm strictly a layperson :). The only interpretation my literal mind can come up with is "the wattage of the bulbs I've been using is too high." Is that what you meant by any chance? Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately I can't work on this myself, even if I knew what I was doing, at 60 my balance and strength aren't up to repairing a fixture in a 9-1/2 foot ceiling from a 6-foot ladder :) but your response was very on-topic and nonjudgmental. Appreciated.

@Alan, your response, on the other hand, is pretty arrogant. Even if you *are* a lawyer, you don't know what you're talking about situationally. Everything costs "a ton" (1) to someone as broke as I am, (2) in my very expensive locale, (3) when you need a tradesperson's help. No way I can install a new fixture myself, cheap or otherwise. Building superintendent might do it but is not obligated to. (This is a co-op, not a rental, in case you didn't get the part about putting my home up for sale.) As for "moral obligations," I'll bite my tongue.

@snidely, although you are off the safety topic as well, thank you for a reasonable and courteous reply that offsets the previous.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

@countryboymo I skipped over your reply, sorry. Regarding your defense of other commenters, again, I was looking for technical guidance, and clearly so. (And my concern was not even fire or electrocution hazard so much as system safety, i.e., would continued operation of this fixture be likely to harm the circuit and other equipment that's running off that circuit? --though I acknowledge I wasn't explicit about that.)

I have a realtor and will have a lawyer to help me with "covering my butt," that's not what I came to an electrical wiring forum for. And I fully intend to disclose absolutely every problem I'm aware of; I'm not stupid and I'm not a cheater.

After about 20 years of interacting online I'm all too familiar with the tendency of Web forums to knock participants off topic and out of the supplied context by triggering their pet peeves. But it's still annoying (more so, really), and it's still a waste of everyone's time.

This post was edited by Mag_Ben on Mon, Jan 28, 13 at 6:50


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

Oh, FWIW, I later talked with a member of the building staff who has at least basic knowledge of wiring, and his opinion as far as continuing to use the fixture was "don't sweat it." I also found another fresh bulb, which works fine in the good socket.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

"can you explain "over-lamped"? I'm strictly a layperson :). The only interpretation my literal mind can come up with is "the wattage of the bulbs I've been using is too high." Is that what you meant by any chance?"

You or someone at some point put in bulbs larger than the fixture rating.

This also shows up with newer fixtures designed for 90 C NM when older NM was only rated for 60 C.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

Mag Ben,
I think it was information in your post that threw the conversation off in a direction you didn't intend.

To ask "I'm selling my apartment and I just noticed some fried wiring, is it hazardous/should I do anything?" is a very different question than " I just noticed a fixture I've used for years has fried wiring, should I worry about it?"

My suggestion for next time is to keep your questions and background brief, then add more info when it looks like the responders need more. Leave out the unessential details.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

I would replace the circuit and I am sorry but I cannot go any further explaining how in a web forum. Sorry to not be of more assistance but you know how these forums are.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

@brickeyee: So my literal mind DID read you correctly. Thanks and sorry for the delayed reply--I had more work to do before the open house than I thought and it had to be postponed a week, to yesterday (yes, Super Bowl Sunday, but I still got a decent turnout). So I'm just coming out of that long grind on this Monday morning.

The bulbs I have used are only 25-watt candelabras. I have trouble imagining that was excessive for a fairly expensive ceiling fixture purchased in 1994, but maybe I should have been using 15s... After all this I'm still wondering whether I just shouldn't use the damn thing at all, but I'm not going to scare my prospective buyers by duct-taping the wall switch in the off position. That seems more of an alarm than the concern warrants.

@snidely: I just re-read my post. It's perfectly clear, it's not that long, and I NEVER said that I "just noticed" ANYTHING. Sentence #3 said "One of the two sockets stopped working years ago." Not a new problem or a new discovery. And why would a socket stop working other than "fried" (damaged) wire?

I do grant that the photo of the "fried" neutral may have derailed some people, which is why I removed it, as stated in the editing of the comment. Images are much more powerful influencers than any number of words.

@countryboymo: Thanks for the follow-up, although I'm surprised you didn't say "replace the CIRCUIT" the first time. If by that you mean, rewire it, as in chopping into the walls/ceiling, etc.--no way, not without the figurative gun to my head. I will, as previously stated, disclose the issue with the fixture. Then the interested party's due diligence process will assess the implications. As I've said, there is undoubtedly plenty of other work that any person of means will want done in here, including an assortment of electrical upgrades. I think it is very unlikely they would zero in on that particular electrical problem and make its repair a condition of sale. But we'll see.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

What fixture was there previously?

Or has this fixture been there the entire time (since original construction)?


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

There was no fixture there before I bought the place in 1994. It was added as part of a light renovation I had done by a GC and various subcontractors.


 o
RE: Half-dead ceiling fixture hazardous?

"As others said, your disclosure does not absolve you from your moral and legal obligations. You cannot contract outside the law."

Where did this idea come from?

You can sell things in disrepair and even dangerous condition if you provide suitable notice.

It is done all the time every day with things far more dangerous than some damaged wiring.

it is called disclosure, and it is perfectly legal and moral.

I have a rifle manufactured in 1866 with an old, lower strength action (A trapdoor Springfield in .50-70 government caliber).

It is perfectly safe to use if you know what you are doing.
It would be very easy to blow it up though.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Electrical Wiring Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here