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Senior Member
Username: glocke

Post Number: 700
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 2:52 am:   Edit Post

Last night around nine I was doing some things around the house and had several lights on, one of them in the hallway. Not even five minutes after turning this light on I smelled something burning, and walk down the hall to find smoke literally pouring from the fixture. I cut the power, and removed the fixture (parts of which were almost to hot to touch and found scorching on the drywall where the fixture was mounted, and charring on the fixture itself.

Im really not sure what happened. The fixture says to use 25 watt bulbs max. Two of the bulbs were the GE Naturals 40 watt bulbs, and one was a 25 watt standard bulb. Im guessing that having the 40 watt bulbs in there may have contributed to this, but they have been in there for the better part of a year.

It was pretty scary and led to somewhat of a sleepless night.

I consider myself to be a pretty cautious person (to the point of it being OCD), whenever I leave the house I make sure appliances are unplugged, stove is off, etc...but this happened in less than 5 minutes...If I had been outside or in the basement when this happened I have no doubts it would have escalated into something much more severe.

pics here.
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 2439
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 3:16 am:   Edit Post

Scary ...

You had 105W worth of bulbs in a 75W fixture, backed with rockwool so the heat couldn't leak out.

Scary ...

The rockwool looks like it must have been touching heated up parts, so perhaps something had made the rockwool shift.

(Message edited by adriaan on March 23, 2010)
Senior Member
Username: glocke

Post Number: 701
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 3:25 am:   Edit Post

Scared the shit out of me. When I bought the bulbs I know I was shopping for 25 watt bulbs, Im usually pretty careful about that stuff. I must have picked up the 40 watters by accident.

One of the things I was in the process of doing last night also was changing the smoke detector batteries. I had removed them about an hour before this happened and than got distracted by something else so the smoke detector was out of commision while this was going on. First order of business for me (TODAY) is to put more smoke detectors in the house, and to get get a couple of fire extinguishers.

This just goes to show that shit can happen no matter how careful you are.
Username: dluxe

Post Number: 86
Registered: 11-2009
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 4:58 am:   Edit Post

That is scary! I'm glad you caught it and all is ok. My neighbor's house caught fire several years ago and the cause was his upstairs bathroom exhaust fan which shorted out. He was not home but I saw the smoke and called 911 and they managed to save the house although the upstairs was damaged and lots of smoke damage to the whole home.
Username: 12stringwilson

Post Number: 62
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 5:01 am:   Edit Post

Thank goodness you and your home are safe. Now you have my OCDness kicking in. I am going to have to do a quick check of my fixtures when I get home.
Senior Member
Username: artswork99

Post Number: 1041
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 5:05 am:   Edit Post

Glad to hear that all are safe.
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1566
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 5:17 am:   Edit Post

It is good you and your home are ok. This reminds me that it is time to get the batteries changed in my smoke detectors and test my alarm system.

Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 4353
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 6:15 am:   Edit Post

Close call, but, as they say, all's well that ends well. By goosing you to put up more detectors and obtain fire extinguishers, this little incident may have ultimately saved your life (and your Alembics!) Glad you and yours are unharmed.

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: cozmik_cowboy

Post Number: 671
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 6:37 am:   Edit Post

I've been meaning to get extinguishers - now I will. And next time SWMBO says it's too dark, put in a bigger bulb, I'll show her this. Glad you caught it in time.

Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 1159
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 10:33 am:   Edit Post

If you're going to buy new detectors, make sure you get units that also detect carbon monoxide.
Advanced Member
Username: lembic76450

Post Number: 209
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 1:45 pm:   Edit Post

As Toby said, a big +1. As a gas service tech for the Gas Co. here in Rhode Island, CO is more frightening, you don't always see it coming. Good call Toby.
Glad you are safe, Greg.
Intermediate Member
Username: slawie

Post Number: 174
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 1:50 pm:   Edit Post

Adriann is right.
Too many watts under a blanket of Rockwool!
This is a recipe for disaster.

Here in Australia the federal government introduced a scheme where people were funded for
ceiling insulation. Well the ratty and backyard boys
went out and were performing the insulation installation and so many inexperienced installers
did precisely as you see in your case. There have been numerous
house fires caused by the bad installation so much that the government is now
forced to re-check all the new installations of
ceiling insulation around the country. This amount to tens of thousands of home with the potential
to burn down.
The minister in charge of the program (Peter Garrett from Australian rock band Midnight Oil) was demoted.
Second to that foil insulation was used in some instances where the mounting staples pierced
electrical cables on the ceiling battons. This made the whole
roof "LIVE" 4 people lost there lives during the installation
process by touching the live insulation.
Major Stuff Up!

I recommend to everyone that has insulation or new downlights fitted to check
that there is clearance around the light fixture and never
place lamps over the rating of the fixture.
The single flouro lamps are a good idea also as they draw less electricity and do not
have the same heat output of incandescent bulbs.

All I can say is on this occasion the Gods were smiling on you.

Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 541
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 11:39 pm:   Edit Post

Yikes! I'm glad I live in a country where the voltage out of the wall is only 120 volts.

Be careful out there, watch out for those electrons!
Senior Member
Username: byoung

Post Number: 1258
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 8:51 am:   Edit Post

It isn't the voltage that kills you; it's amperage.
Intermediate Member
Username: slawie

Post Number: 175
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 2:25 pm:   Edit Post

There is a story about the Home insulation debacle here,

The number was worse than I thought.

Taken from the above story; "At a senate inquiry into the government's bungled home insulation program yesterday, department officials confirmed the number of fires associated with dodgy installation of pink batts had risen to 120."

Username: electronicstud

Post Number: 19
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 8:52 pm:   Edit Post

Glocke, Glad to hear no harm done. Dont beat yourself up on the bulb wattage issue. Your mistake added 30 watts. 0.25 amps through the circuit,(120v/30watt=) little extra heat maybe. The insulation on the wire (being totaly melted off) tells me that the socket failed; for the wire insulation to be melted off indicates much more than a 0.25 amperage increase. You had a short to ground situation in a socket. I am a mere rookie with only 15 years under my belt but...your fixture failed. looks like the wire gauge should of been able to handle way more than the .9 amps you were pushing with the 105 watts at 120 volts. I may be out of my mind; if a fixture is rated at .7 amps and you push .9 amps (with 14 gauge wire) and it shoots out fire balls.....slow Short circuit if the breaker did not trip. (to get to the point).... It is not yout fault. The wire melted, that means wire heat not fixture heat which means over amperage which means short which means shorted socket. my free opnion. good luck!
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 587
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 9:54 pm:   Edit Post

I am curious why the circuit breaker didn't trip if there was a short. When we bought our house in 2002, the first thing I did was hire an electrician to come check out the electrical and put in a separate circuit for my home studio. He took one look at our 1957 Federal Pacific breaker panel and said it had to go. In the 80s or 90s, he worked for the Underwriter's Laboratories (the ones that do the UL certification) and tested the Fed Pac boxes. Apparently in the 50s they had a sweetheart deal with the FHA and when the loans got made for developments like mine in Boulder, CO, Fed Pac boxes were spec'ed. Long story short, he took 25 feet of zipcord, shorted it out and attached the other end to a Fed Pac breaker, flipped on the power and watched it burn all the way back to the breaker. Apparently these breaker boxes have been responsible for burning down as many houses as they have left standing.

Moral: If you've got a Fed Pac box, replace it now. They are certainly not up to Alembic standards! :-)
Username: electronicstud

Post Number: 20
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 7:39 pm:   Edit Post

Oh yea, definatly check that breaker. I worked on aiplanes back in my Airforce days. Wires to some of the bulbs on the aircraft would get so hot that they would fail due to fixture heat. When that happened it looked totaly different than socket/bulb failure. When the fixture got too hot everything would bake semi-evenly from the outside in leaving residule plastic insulation baked into the wire. Both leads to the bulb would be baked from the outside-in evenly, which never melted all of the insulation off because the wire wasn't too hot.. When a socket failed resulting in a drastic increase in wire temp (amperage) the single socket overheats melting the nearest non metalic material... plastic wire insulation from the inside out cleaning the wire. Basicaly; when the fixture became an oven... the insulation was baked onto the wire. When the socket was pulling way more amps then designed for.. the insulation melted off of the wire leaving it clean like glockes, I think???? This is my unprovable theory. rock on!

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