Just about everyone knows the familiar glow of fluorescent tube lights. You’ll find them in all kinds of homes in the Baltimore area, whether they’re illuminating garages, basements, workshops or even the occasional crawl space or attic. As commonly as fluorescent lighting is used in those types of utility spaces, perhaps just as common are the problems that can come with fluorescent lighting in terms of reliability and efficiency. This is especially true for older lighting installations and is something that you should definitely be aware of if your home is more than a couple of decades old In particular, the magnetic ballast is a key component of older fluorescent lighting systems and is one common point of failure that can prevent you from having the light you need when you hit the switch or pull the cord.
What a magnetic light ballast doesThe magnetic ballast for a fluorescent lighting system, which is sometimes called the control gear, is a small part of the lighting unit or box. It ensures that the amount of electricity going to the bulbs is both enough to turn on the tubes and keep them running at a safe and efficient voltage. Since most fluorescent bulbs produce light by heating mercury gas, the ballast keeps the amount of electricity going to the bulbs in check so that the mercury gas stays at a safe and stable temperature. If the ballast wears out and fails to regulate the flow of electricity, the mercury gas inside each bulb could overheat and burn or even start a fire.
Signs your fluorescent light fixture ballast is failingFortunately, it’s pretty easy to spot when a magnetic ballast is failing, so you can prevent any fire risk in plenty of time to have a licensed professional electrician in Baltimore remedy the issue. Here are a few telltale signs that a fluorescent light ballast has failed or is on its way to failing:.
- Light bulbs controlled by the magnetic ballast are taking longer to start and illuminate
- You hear a buzzing noise coming from the fluorescent light fixture
- The fluorescent bulbs flicker, are dim or provide uneven light