Fluorescent Light Troubleshooting and Repair: starter, bulb or ballast?

Up until recently, I thought that fluorescent light fixtures were very similar to other light fixtures, and all you had to do was change the bulbs every once in a while. And I could not have been more wrong. I’ve been having a problem with this
light fixture here in my garage for months now. When I flipped the switch, it would either glow a little bit at one end, and never fully light up, or it would
flicker a lot. Aaaaa! The Flayer is coming! or be so dim that it wasn’t even really
worth it. And changing the bulbs made no difference whatsoever. Unlike regular light bulbs, fluorescent bulbs operate based on the excitement of the molecules
inside the bulb, and you have to have something to start that off with. And one day in a discussion on the ChickFix Group Page, a lady said, “Oh, well you know,
when you change the fluorescent bulbs, you should also change the starter.” A starter like on a car? Yes, a starter like on a car. So I started off by trying to change
the starter. I honestly have no idea how to do this, But I’m gonna figure it out. Now, where does this guy go? Maybe it’s inside this thing? Okay…(laughing)…now what do I do? It turns out that most modern
fluorescent light fixtures don’t actually have starters. They’re what’s known as “rapid start” and they don’t require a starter. If when you turn the light on, if there’s a delay of a couple of seconds, then you probably have a starter. If it comes on pretty much instantaneously, you don’t. One thing that can happen with these is minerals can build up on the ends of these little connections, and also on the actual fixture itself. These actually seem like they’re okay, so I don’t think that’s the problem. Now through a little bit of research I decided that the issue is probably the ballast which I’m gonna
change. And frankly, I’m not real psyched about it, because I don’t like working over my
head on a ladder, and there’s an awful lot of wires up there. There are some countries in this world where you are not legally allowed to actually
change this out or do any kind of electrical work unless you’re a licensed
electrician. In the United States you’re fine, but countries like Australia, New Zealand, and I believe also Canada, you actually have to be a licensed
electrician to do anything electrical at all. So keep that in mind and make sure you know whether or not you’re legally allowed to do this. Now, different ballasts go with different types of fluorescent lights, so make sure
that you’re getting the right one. And it may also not even be the same size and shape of the one that’s currently in there. You got to go based on the wattage
of the fluorescent lights, how many bulbs are in it, etc. If it’s a two-bulb, you’re gonna have one of these. If it’s a four-bulb you’re probably gonna have two of these. Now I’m noticing here that this new ballast has the same wires. It’s got two red, two blue, two yellow, a black and a white. The only thing I’m worried about here is that the yellow actually, on the new ballast, comes out this direction
instead of that direction, so I don’t know if that’s gonna be too much of an issue, but we’ll see. I have already turned off the power to this garage so I know the power’s unhooked. Make sure you do that before you do anything! I think I’ll take those wires out first. We’re just gonna have to see. Just kidding. The power is definitely off on these. I don’t really like doing this.
I don’t like cutting wires. It scares me. What’s the worst that could happen, right?
It’s already not working. This one up here has some electrical caps on it, and I probably didn’t have to clip those. I probably could have just pulled them
right out, but trying to follow the directions. All right, it’s out! The next thing I need to do is strip these wires about a half an inch.
Unfortunately I don’t have any wire strippers, which seems like a really
weird thing. I need to get some of those. So basically I’m just gonna do this very
very carefully, kind of score it. There we go! See? Those, I’ll just take off like that. There we go! Did it! Now the fun part begins! Oh my gosh, look at me! I look like a drowned a rat. Oh well, that’s reality! I was kind of worried about whether
or not it mattered which blue wire went to which blue wire on the ballast, but it
basically just says connect them all. I don’t know. I’m gonna give it a shot
and see. These electrical caps you can buy at any home improvement store. I think the yellow ones are gonna be big enough. And they will both keep the electrical connections attached to each other, but they’ll also insulate them. My garage doors face the south so we get the southern exposure so this garage
feels like it’s about 150 degrees right now. I’m meltiiiiiiiing! It always seems kind of strange to me that these electrical connections are this simple. Like you’re literally just attaching two wires together. But that is actually the way it is. Now if you’re an electrician watching, and you’re looking at this going: “Oh my God, that woman is
going to burn her house down!” I really would appreciate the constructive
criticism below Keyword: CONSTRUCTIVE because I am still learning
all of this stuff and I really don’t want my family to get hurt or my house
to burn down. Before I put all the casing back on this thing, I am going to just stick a bulb in here and see if it works before I bother. Ah, it worked! Can you see that? It’s actually working! That’s awesome I gotta go back down and turn the power back off. This thing kind of squeezes into these slots, so that’s nice. Oh geez! That would NOT have been good, that would have shattered into a million pieces. Just gets worse and worse. Back down to the basement again turn the power back on. Here we go: awesome And now it is definitely time
for me to go get a shower. I got a hair in my mouth At least I hope it’s hair. (curse) Ugh…crap. That box of electrical caps fell off the ladder and went everywhere. Crap. (curse) (curse) Too many wires! (humming “It’s a Hard Knock Life”)

Bernard Jenkins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *