Why Did My Bathroom Light Stop Working? Causes & Fixes4 min read

There are only a few situations more surprising than the lights turning out on you while you’re in the bathroom. And if you’ve tried changing the bulb but the new one still doesn’t work, you’re probably getting pretty frustrated. So, why did your bathroom light stop working, and how can you fix it?

If you’ve tried changing your bathroom light bulb but it still doesn’t work, make sure that the metal socket tab is making contact with the bulb. For recessed lights, ensure they aren’t overheating by providing good airflow. If you suspect an electrical issue, you should call a professional.

It’s worth noting that the most common issues that can cause your bathroom light to stop working vary depending on what kind of light you’re using. Let’s go into this topic in more detail while also taking a look at the many different kinds of lights you might see in a bathroom.

Why Isn’t My Bathroom Light Working?

Electrician working with wires and other utensils

The most common issue with any light fixture not working is an obvious one, so it’s one we’ll cover as quickly as possible, just to get it out of the way: If your bathroom light (or any light in your home) isn’t working, the first thing to check is whether the light bulb has burnt out. All you have to do to fix this issue is purchase another light bulb and replace the old one with it.

With that option out of the way, let’s move on to other possible issues.

The specific problem plaguing your bathroom light is going to depend on what kind of light you have. For example, the most common issues that can cause a ceiling fixture light to not work properly aren’t exactly the same as those that can cause a pull chain light to not work properly.

Let’s go through the most common issues that can cause each kind of bathroom light to stop functioning, as well as how to fix these issues.

Common Issues with Ceiling Fixtures

First off, when it comes to ceiling fixture lights, the most common issue is another simple one. Sometimes, the constant fluctuations of electricity that come with turning the lights on and off can cause a perfectly screwed in light bulb to come loose.

In this case, your light might not be working because the bulb isn’t making full contact with the fixture. All you have to do to fix this issue is screw the bulb in every once in a while.

The second most common issue with ceiling fixture lights is the metal socket tab flattening out and no longer coming into contact with the bulb. This metal socket tab being in contact with the bulb is the trigger that results in the bulb lighting up, so if the two aren’t touching properly, you won’t get any light.

To fix this issue, unscrew your light bulb and look at the bottom center of the light socket. Here, you should see a metal socket tab. If it seems flat, bend it back up a little bit and then screw the bulb back in.

Finally, the third most common issue with a ceiling light fixture is some sort of wiring issue either at the light or at the breaker. In this case, you likely want to get the help of a professional electrician in order to fix your light.

Common Issues with Recessed (Can) Lights

First off, can lights like these (example on Amazon) are similar enough to ceiling fixture lights that they’re susceptible to the same issues that can plague ceiling fixture lights, so make sure to try all of the steps listed in the previous section.

Beyond those issues, recessed lights have other common issues that cause them to go out. The most prevalent one is overheating. Recessed lights have a built-in safety feature that causes them to shut off at the exact moment their heat level goes above a certain threshold.

There are a couple of different reasons that your recessed lights may be overheating. First off, make sure that the light bulb that you’re using is the right wattage for the light fixture. If your light bulb is too powerful for the fixture, it will begin to overheat when plugged into the system.

You can check your light fixture’s wattage range by looking at it. Typically, light fixtures include this information printed somewhere on the fixture itself. Note that for certain fixtures, you may need to take out the light bulb in order to see the wattage range of your fixture.

Additionally, make sure that your light fixture and the light bulb have enough airflow. If the light bulb or light fixture are smothered by something, heat could be getting trapped around the light bulb and causing it to overheat.

Common Issues with Integral Switch or Pull Chain Lights

Some bathroom lights are operated by an attached switch or a chain that you pull. Are these lights any different than the last two? Do they have any unique issues?

The answer to both of these questions is, perhaps surprisingly, no. When attempting to fix an integral switch or pull chain light, you basically need to do the exact same steps as you would when fixing a ceiling fixture light.

First, begin by making sure the light bulb hasn’t come loose over time. Then, check the socket tab and make sure that it’s making contact with the light bulb when you screw it in. Finally, if neither of those work, you may have some sort of wiring issue.

If you do have a wiring issue, once again, it’s probably better at this point to just call a professional electrician to see if they can fix your light.

However, if you’re set on the idea that you’d like to fix this issue yourself, make sure to turn off the power to the room before you handle any of the wires.

Common Issues with Vanity Mirror Lights

Unlike the integral switch and pull chain lights, vanity mirror lights actually do have their own unique issues that can make your lights not work properly. The first of these unique issues is a tripped circuit breaker.

It’s actually possible for vanity mirror lights to use so much power in your bathroom that they trip your circuit breaker to cut the power of the room in order to prevent a power overload.

In order to fix this issue, all you have to do is turn the breaker for the room off and then back on again. If you’d like to prevent this issue entirely, you should try limiting the amount of time that you leave the lights on before turning them off again.

Can a Light Switch Wear Out?

Handyman replacing a tube light in bathroom

Yes, a light switch can wear out — and it can become a serious fire hazard if it does. This can be worrying information to learn, especially if you don’t know how to tell whether your light switch is wearing out. So, what’s the trick?

There are a couple of different signs that a light switch may need to be looked at. The first one that many people will notice is a difference in sound.

If you notice a crackling or hissing noise whenever you flip the light switch, there’s likely some sort of damage in the circuitry of your light switch.

Another common sign that many people notice is a difference in the light switch’s temperature. If your light switch feels hot to the touch (enough so that you wouldn’t want to keep your hand on it), then your light switch likely has an issue that needs to be addressed.

Another common sign that your light switch could be wearing out is a growing delay between you flipping the switch and the lights coming on. This is a sign that the electrical contacts contained in the switch are wearing out.

Thankfully, this issue won’t cause any fires, but it will lead to the light switch not working.

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