Replacing Light Bulbs: It May Only Take One of You

17 03 2010

Replacing Light BulbsAll joking aside, if there’s one thing that’s inevitable about disposable light bulbs, it’s that they always burn out in time. Newer light bulbs last longer than before, but even with better bulbs, there will still come a day that you’ll need to perform your fireman routine, standing on top of a short ladder to replace the bulb in an overhead light. As routine and mundane as this may seem to you, the changing of a light bulb should be seen as an opportunity to, at least in some tiny part, improve America’s level of energy independence.

Traditional Light Bulbs Are a Thing of The Past

Round, incandescent bulbs have cast light into our hallways and dining rooms for well over a century, but they are becoming an outdated design. When they were first conceived, concerns of energy efficiency were not nearly as prominent as they are today geopolitical world. This is partly due to the fact that the world’s population wasn’t anywhere near the size it is now, and so no one could have predicted the many millions of incandescent bulbs that would be burning in this day and age. At least no time soon.

With greater knowledge comes a greater feeling of responsibility for the environment that supports us all, and greater technological innovation has provided the average household with more options for how best to illuminate their homes. Modern, florescent bulbs use far less energy, and have been trial proven to last hundreds of hours longer than the traditional bulbs. Not only that, but they’re a lot safer to use in a household that has small children in it, since they don’ get nearly as hot. Your power bill will get reduced, and your home will be filled with a vivid, more natural lighting. This variety of light bulbs does have a tendency to be a bit more expensive than normal, but that’s only because the manufacturing concept is relatively new, by comparison. Even despite the extra cost, the extra longevity of alternative bulbs will

Another “green” option is to replace all of your traditional bulbs with LED bulbs. For the same power usage, LEDs are much brighter than incandescents, and they’re incredibly inexpensive by comparison. Since most homeowners tend to prefer more subtle, moderate lighting in their homes, much less energy is needed for continuous use. They come in adjustable brightnesses, and their incredibly low level of power consumption makes them ideal for use in battery-powered devices like flashlights. If your power were to go out, LED powered backup lights would be much more likely to last throughout the darkness than other, more conventional lighting sources.

Installing the New Bulb

No matter what you decide on, the installation process is almost always the same. For floor lamps, table lamps, or low hanging ceiling lights, it’s just a matter of unscrewing the old bulb, and inserting the replacement using a twisting, clockwise motion. As always, your own safety should be your first concern when you’re dealing with electricity. Make sure the power to the circuit is off, and if the bulb has been on in the last few minutes, let a little time pass before you try to handle a potentially hot light bulb with your bare hands.

As simple as it may seem to screw in the new bulb, care must be taken. Tightening the bulb too much in the socket has the potential to cause a break, and you could even cut your hand on the resulting shard of glass still attached to the fixture. Broken glass like this should be disposed of immediately, especially if there are domesticated animals or small children in the house. The danger of breaking the bulb is increased slightly whenever you decide to go with purchasing a florescent bulb, for reasons concerning the heavy metals inside them that are necessary to their function. Florescent bulbs contain tiny amounts of mercury, which is highly toxic. While the bulb itself is reasonably durable, mercury is not something you might want accidentally released into your home atmosphere, regardless of the amount. Exercise due caution, and everything will be fine.

Always Exercise Proper Safety

Dead bulbs that reside in high places represent the biggest challenge, and the most likely point of concern for your own personal safety will be when you’re up on top of a ladder, reaching on your tip-toes, unscrewing and replacing a precarious light fixture. For your own sake, and for your family’s sake, don’t attempt a task like this alone. Even if you’re only going to be replacing a single light bulb, having a friend or family member around to help stabilize the bottom of the ladder can mean the difference between the job taking you five minutes, and the job ruining your whole weekend after you fall and hit your head.

A well-lit home can keep your spirits bright, and help keep you and your family feeling positive and focused on getting started with the day ahead. Choose a light bulb variety that’s bright enough, energy-smart, and use common sense and good safety when you’re plugging it in. The rest, as they say, is as easy as flipping the switch.

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How to Remove Light Bulbs

17 03 2010

How to Remove Light BulbsHow to Make Removing Light Bulbs Easy

No matter which type of light bulb you choose to place in your fixture, it will burn out over time. You may see the bulb start to dim and decrease in intensity, or it may not turn on one day. Whenever this happens, it’s time to remove the light bulb from the socket and replace it with a new one. Although removing light bulbs is a simple process, there are important precautions you should take to ensure accuracy and safety every time.

Keep in mind that the success to removing light bulbs is dependent on how they are installed in the first place. Never overtighten the light bulbs, as this is the number one reason why light bulbs become stuck and are difficult to remove. Instead, when you replace the light bulb with a new one, make sure that you secure it gently by turning it in a clockwise direction until you feel resistance.

Turn on the power and if your light bulb lights up without flickering, you are done with the project. If it does not turn on however, you will need to turn the power source back off and turn the bulb slightly more. Following these simple steps will ensure that your light bulbs will not become stuck when removing them.

How to Remove Light Bulbs

Because you never know what can happen while removing a light bulb, it’s best to take precautions beforehand. After all, you will be working with delicate glass that can break or shatter at any time. Also, if using energy efficient light bulbs, these contain small traces of mercury that can be dangerous if exposed.

To remove an incandescent or energy efficient light bulb, first turn off the power source or unplug the lamp. If the bulb was previously lit and then burnt out, allow it to cool for five minutes. Next, grasp the bulb by its base in a steady, yet gentle manner. Because light bulbs are fragile and break easily, you want to handle them properly. Never grasp the bulb on the glass as this will cause it to shatter.

Turn the light bulb in a counterclockwise direction until the bulb comes loose. Remove the light bulb from the socket and dispose of it properly. You can then install a new light bulb by inserting it into the socket and turning it in a clockwise direction until secure, being sure not to overtighten the bulb.

How to Dispose of Light Bulbs

If disposing an incandescent light bulb, wrap it in paper or place it in a plastic baggie. That way if it happens to shatter, the glass won’t cut through the garbage bag. Because incandescent light bulbs are not hazardous waste, they can be disposed of with the regular trash each week. If you are looking for ways to be environmentally friendly, choose a creative way to reuse the light bulb instead of throwing it away. Some ideas include:

  • Christmas Ornaments
  • Hanging Vases
  • Painted Bulbs
  • Salt and Pepper Shakers
  • Lawn Decorations (painted as flowers)

If you are disposing an energy efficient light bulb however, you will need to do so properly. Although only small amounts of mercury are found in energy efficient light bulbs, it can be leaked into the water and soil if thrown away in the regular trash. Instead, contact your local sanitation department and ask if they recycle burnt out energy efficient light bulbs. If not, bag the bulb in two plastic bags, tying each of them securely. You then can dispose of them in your weekly trash.

How to Remove Light Bulbs That Are Stuck

Removing a light bulb that is stuck is not only frustrating, but sometimes you’re left with no choice but to unscrew it until it breaks. Because you will be handling broken glass, make sure that you are wearing the necessary gear to keep safe, including leather gloves and eyewear. Turn off the circuit breaker or unplug the lamp from its electrical outlet. Be sure that the bulb has cooled off as well.

Place a protective covering such as newspaper or a tarp underneath the light fixture to collect broken glass. Also locate a wooden stick, such as that from a broom or paint roller. Using a rag, cover the bulb and grasp it by its base. Turn the light bulb firmly to see if it will loosen. If not, tap it gently until the bulb breaks. Fit the wooden pole into the screw base and unscrew the base from the socket. You can also use a pair of pliers to unscrew the base if the wooden pole does not work.

If all else fails, use a potato or bar of soap instead. Make sure it is cut in half and that some of the broken glass is left in the bulb. Press the potato or bar of soap into the base and against the glass and turn. Be sure not to damage the electrical socket or let moisture in. It is important to note that this process should never be done on energy efficient light bulbs, as shattering them will release mercury into the air.

How to Remove Broken Light Bulbs

If the light bulb breaks unexpectedly and you are left with the remnants, you will need to take extra precaution. Not only are you handling broken glass, but energy efficient light bulbs contain traces of mercury that can be hazardous if exposed. If you happen to break an energy efficient light bulb, leave the room for at least 15 minutes. Open windows and doors to let in fresh air and turn off the heat or air conditioning in order to prevent the contaminated air from circulating. After 15 minutes, return to the room wearing a protective mask, gloves and eyewear. Clean up any broken glass on the floor with a wet rag; stubborn pieces of glass can be removed using stiff cardboard or a squeegee. Dispose of the rag and protective gear in a sturdy plastic bag and tie it shut. Then place the bag in an additional plastic bag and seal the contents.

Because incandescent light bulbs do not contain mercury, you do not have to evacuate the room if it breaks. However, you are still handling broken pieces of glass, so it’s important that you wear a pair of thick, leather gloves and protective eyewear. If you are removing a bulb from an overhead fixture, place a tarp or towel down underneath to catch any broken glass.

Once the above steps are completed, you may remove the rest of the light bulb using a pair of pliers. Insert the pliers into the base as far as you can. Apply a lot of pressure by pushing the pliers against the sides of the base and twisting them in a counterclockwise direction. You will continue turning the pliers until the base of the bulb is out of the light socket. If you get stuck, turn the base back slightly and try again.

Even the simplest projects can become difficult if not handled in the proper way. Always remember that when removing light bulbs, you are working with delicate glass and perhaps even mercury. For these reasons, you need to pay careful attention to removing the bulb and disposing of it properly. In order to reduce the amount of times you have to remove light bulbs, consider replacing them with energy efficient bulbs that use less power and have a longer lifespan.

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Light Bulbs and the Importance of Proper Storage

17 03 2010

Light Bulbs StorageHow to store your unused light bulbs can, at times, be a daunting task. There are a countless variety of light bulbs available in many shapes and sizes ranging from incandescent, fluorescent and halogen. These are the three main types of light bulb although the most common is the Incandescent light bulb.

Incandescent Bulbs: Practical Storage Ideas

Often times when we purchase light bulbs they come in a package of two or four. Unfortunately we only need one. What do you do with the remaining bulbs? Do you just set it on the shelf or in a drawer to be jostled and bumped and possibly broken? Let us consider some practical ideas to assure the safe storage of your unused light bulbs.

  • Purchase a specially designed storage bin. Available for less than $20, the Light Bulb Storage Box can store 24 bulbs of various sizes and shapes from the standard bulb to CFL bulbs. This is only one of the options available and can be found at a variety of online retailers such as organize.com or stacksandstacks.com.
  • Do-it-yourself storage. All you need is a cardboard box and some bubble wrap. The box should be the approximate width of the light bulb packaging. You may be able to place several packages into the box if space permits. The idea is to securely place the package into the box and with the bubble wrap, you can fill the remaining space to avoid rattling. With this done you can now place the box on the shelf, knowing that your unused bulbs will be safe. The last step is to label the box. Don’t forget to include the bulb type, wattage and where the bulbs will most likely be used.

Halogen Bulbs: Handle with Care

Even though Fluorescent and Halogen bulbs are not used through out the home as abundantly as incandescent bulbs are, care is still needed. Halogen bulbs in particular come with concise handling instructions and these instructions should be taken into consideration as you think about possible storage options. You would never want to handle the bulb with your bare hands. A halogen bulb is made of quartz instead of a glass like most other bulbs. The salts and oils from your skin can, when in contact with the quartz, cause a breakdown or a weak point in the quartz. It is always a good practice to handle halogen bulbs while wearing gloves or to make it a habit of wiping down the bulb following any handling.

If you decide to go with a do-it-yourself storage method, using a variation of the one noted above, you should consider, first of all the box you are placing the bulb into. If you are using a box that has been used previously for a different purpose you should think about how clean the container is. Does it have an oily or greasy residue? Could the box contaminate the integrity of the bulb in a way similar to your bare hands?

Fluorescent Bulbs: The Necessity of Proper Storage

Good storage does more than simply protect your investment. It also helps to protect our environment and your personal well being. Fluorescent bulbs, above and beyond incandescent and halogen bulbs need to be securely stored. If broken, a fluorescent light bulb releases mercury and other toxins into the air which can be easily inhaled.

Various state governments have very detailed procedures in place to guide individuals as well as businesses in the proper way to handle, store and dispose of fluorescent lights. The following are a few of the Environmental Health and Safety procedures:

  • We need to have a designated location for storage. This area needs to be secure. A low traffic area were the possibility of accidental damage is low. Outside, in the weather where the cardboard boxes may become wet, is not a viable option.
  • Used light bulbs should not remain in storage for more than a year. Proper labeling would be useful, noting that the bulbs are used and the date that they were placed into storage.
  • Used light bulbs must be stored in a container. The original cardboard packaging is acceptable or Environmental Health and Safety can supply proper storage containers.

It is important that you pay close attention to the guidelines outlined by Environmental Health and Safety, not simply for the legal ramifications but also to ensure that you protect your own health and the health of those around you, on the job or at home. For further information on the proper handling of Fluorescent bulbs check out the procedures found at http://www.ehs.psu.edu/hazmat/FlorescentLighttubes.pdf.

Light bulbs like so many other common household items come with there own unique hazards and require special attention and special consideration. Proper storage is essential to avoid bulb damage and the loss of our investment or even the loss of our health through exposed toxins. Remember that proper storage is a simple step in assuring the safety of yourself and for your family.

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