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why do halogen lights keep blowing? Really scared of fire! Answered

I live in a rented attic flat and just before Christmas four of the ceiling halogen spot lights in my hall and livingroom blew.  I called the landlord (he is an electrician) and he replaced them - then charged me £50!  Two days later the same lights blew again.  There seems to be condensation or something around a couple of the bulbs. (They are sunk in the ceiling.) The next day I went away for two weeks for Christmas, came back yesterday and this morning there was a 'pop' noise and all the five lights in my bedroom blew. (I hadn't just turned them on. They were already on.)  I can't locate the fuse box and I am worried about an electrical fault causing a fire.  It is a new flat (five years old, and the landlord did all the wiring - he is an electrical contractor.) I have to be out all day tomorrow, leaving my little dog there, and I am scared there will be a fire.  I am going to speak to him tomorrow and try to get him to come and sort this out tomorrow night when I get in, but it took ages to get my landlord to come and sort the last thing out, I am living in semi-darkness, and I can't afford to pay hundreds of £ every time the bulbs go.  I have only lived there three months.  What should I do?  Is it safe? I would feel better if I could turn everything off at the mains before going out tomorrow, but I don't know where the thing is to do this - and I don't want to meddle with stuff I know nothing about.  


You can contact NICEIC and see if he DOES have a certificate if he says he has too.
Don't be worried, just turn the lights out. Halogen lamps are notoriously unreliable anyway. The condensation will be because moist warm air from your room is going into the cold space above the bulbs. They are supposed to be sealed from the cold space to prevent the problem you are seeing.

Check your landlord's qualifications. He should have an "NICEIC" certificate. If he doesn't, he isn't qualified to do electrical work on a commercial installation like that.

Ask neighbours where the mains switch could be.

If the thing is faulty and you didn't break it then the landlord should fix it on his own expenses because you rented the apartment with justified expectation that there will be proper functioning electrical lights.

But you should learn to change a lightbulb yourself, it's not difficult. Google it, find a guide with pictures (I guess there should be some). And don't make fingerprints on the bulbs, just in case this actually makes them overheat.

Now if five bulbs (bedroom) went out simultaneously then they could be wired in series and only one of them actually blew. (And the probablility of the thing going dark is five times as likely at any given moment than the probability of single light blowing. So the bedroom could be just a co-incidence.) Alternatively the lights may not work directly from mains but have a 12 volts transformer and this unit could have broken down.

On the other hand, when you say that landlord changed the bulbs in hall and livingroom and things started to work for a while, that means it was not a transformer that stopped working there. Did they all go out at once in hall and living room too?

Get someone who feels confident around electrical things to help you find out if there actually is condensation around the lights. The issue should be dealt with, but it's not very likely to cause fire. I'm not an expert but I have never heard of a fire that started from water-caused short circuit. Fires tend to start inside low quality devices and inside very old wiring (cracked wire conducting by means of creating sparks across the crack, I guess). Other readers, please correct me if I'm wrong.

My search showed that some halogen light fixtures (with 12v transformers in them) just fail and in some places the bulbs just fail and no-one seemed to be able to explain why. If the problem persists and landlord isn't acting helpful, buy some floor standing lamps (or move out altogether).

Keep calm. Good luck.