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Old 03-11-2007, 09:52 PM  
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Default New Light Fixtures bring Smells

Newbie here with a lighting/general electrical question.

Our home was built in 1940 and still has the original cloth wiring and fuse boxes. Some breakers were added along the way to accomodate for modern appliances (mind you, the appliances are now 30 years old )

The lighting fixture in my office was a 3-bulb unit, and I was constantly replacing burned-out bulbs. Another thing that concerned me was the fact that the end of each bulb rested on the wiring for the screw end of the bulb next to it. I picked out a new fixture that uses a T3 bulb, figuring that a one-bulb unit would be better and safer.

My husband and I put up the new unit yesterday, and it works just fine. Only problem is, there is an odor coming from the unit that can only be described as burnt dirt--kind of like when you switch on a furnace for the first time in the winter.

I replaced a fixture in another room of the house, a couple of years ago (that one uses a single incandescent bulb). I got the same smell from that unit, though it gradually wore off over time.

Should we be concerned about the smell, or is this a common thing when attaching a new fixture to old wiring? Was my choice of a halogen fixture a bad idea?

My husband was not too pleased about using a halogen bulb due to the high heat, but I thought it would be OK since it's not in a place where it's going to be knocked over.

Thanks for your valuable insight!

Last edited by smaihlee; 03-11-2007 at 09:54 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 03-12-2007, 09:14 AM  
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Welcome to the Forum, Smaihlee:
The smell is probably nothing to worry about, but the cloth insulation may be heating up more than it ever has or there could be a mud dauber's nest on the outside of the junction box. I'm trusting that you cut off the old wire, stripped a new end and started fresh; using a wire nut to connect the fixture.
If you did that and the wire didn't have crumbling insulation (from the years of heat), then you should be safe.
We are methodically switching to the new mini-flourescents which cool things down considerably, you may want to consider the same approach.

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Old 03-12-2007, 09:32 PM  
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Some light fixtures have a specified temperature range for the wire used to connect them. There should be a label inside the fixture. These things should not be ignored as they often are. Even if there is no temp rating requirement, your husband has valid concern about using Halogen fixtures. The heat they generate is considerably more than most other fixtures. Usually when you smell smoke, it's worth investigating. The fabric insulation on the old wire has a tar-like material wound in to keep itself attached. That stuff has a unique smell of it's own. When it's overheated, It stinks worse.
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Old 03-21-2007, 09:14 PM  
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Default Thanks!

Thanks, glenn and square eye for your thoughtful responses. It certainly has a calming effect NOT to hear "you need to leave your house immediately".

The light fixture smell has gone away now, thankfully. I am very pleased with the amount of light it gives the room, and I like the cast of the light much better than that of the compact fluorescent bulbs. We aren't total energy hogs, though. We have switched most of our lamps and other overhead fixtures to the twirly bulbs.

Thanks again for the advice. I'm sure I'll be back again before too long!
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Old 03-29-2007, 08:30 PM  
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I just liked you called them twirly bulbs cuz I would say the same thing when my ex asked what to buy. as for the old wires I just don't remember is it lead in them that makes one copper and the other nickel color or is it nickel. the nickel colored wire is the one that heats up the worst and makes stink because there is a sort of gas buble inside it that never escaped ecept in those extream instances..

-Andy the cable guy

I love to work on my house would love to help you with yours!
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