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Question DetailsAsked on 10/9/2011

I need a good, honest, inexpensive but licensed electrician to fix or replace my track lighting in my kitchen.

I live in Durham, NC and own a townhome. I'm not certain whether I have a short circuit in my kitchen track lighting, but figure that it's the original lighting from 1983 when the home was built. It's a strip lighting system with 4 "spot" lights, and I use the halogen 45 watt bulbs. Recently, when I put a new bulb in, I had to adjust the positioning of the light bulb a couple of times before it would work.
I'm concerned that I am going to pay a bundle, especially if I need to put in a new system with new wiring.
I do believe though that perhaps it is no longer "safe" especially if I leave my track lighting on in the kitchen, and go into another room in my house.

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Answered 7 years ago by Cas

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If you mean strip lighting, where the bulb fixtures are in fixed locations in a metal strip and do not have release tabs or levers to remove the heads, then you may need an electrician. Unlikely he can fix it - will probably be a case of your having to buy a new strip and have it installed.

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I will assume from here on you mean true track lighting, where the "heads" can be moved laterally up and down the track to concentrate light where you need it. After a decade or two, the contacts can become worn. It is also possible that you got a cheap chinese bulb with bad threads - I have found that, particularly with Sylvania bulbs - they come in with the wrong pitch on the tread, the thread does not fit standard thread shape, or they are slightly out-of-round.

You do not have a short circuit - that would have sparked or arced, and if at all significant would have tripped the breaker. What you had was an open circuit - a failure to connect to the tip and the thread of the bulb, or a failure of the head to contact both wire strips inside the track.

Try the following:

1) take a light bulb out of a fixture you know works OK, and put it into the one that was questionable - if screws in nicely and works, it was the bulb - try the "bad" bulb in another socket to see if it fits there - may just have threads that do not line up with your head threads correctly. Also look to be sure it does not have a burr or blob of solder on the threads of the bulb - a minor manufacturing defect can cause it to not thread in right.

IF that does not work:

2) unplug the track, or turn it off at the switch if hard-wired

3) flip the lever or turn the knob that loosens the head on the one that did not work right, and slide it a half inch or so to one side or the other along the track, then (making sure the head unit is pushed up securely into the track), relatch it. This will take care of any bad head connection with the track.

4) put in a bulb you know works OK, and see if it works.

Only if those do not solve the problem, do you need to think about replacement, and if all the other heads work fine, then maybe just that one head has a problem.

5) You could try looking down inside it - in the center there is a tab of bronze spring steel that the center of the bulb contacts - if you can get a finger nail under it, pry up (NOT sideways) slightly - it may have gotten so compressed with use that it is not making contact. You only need to pry it upward a little bit, so it makes contact with the base of the bulb when screwed in.

6) If that does not work, try putting a totally different type of bulb in it temporarily - to see if that works. If so, then maybe just the brand of bulb - try another brand.

If all those fail, then you may need to replace the head - most manufacturers have a variety of heads that fit their tracks - you could contact them about what they have that fits a 1983 track, or go to a local lighting center with your head unit and see if they have a compatible one.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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