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A CFL Bulb Caught On Fire And Nearly Burned My House Down

CFL Caught FireCFL Fire Damage

In January 2009 I woke up at 3am to use the bathroom.  I left the bathroom light and fan running and shut the door.  I woke up at 6am to start my day, walked down the hall and used my computer for a few minutes and then got up to use the bathroom.  When I opened the bathroom door the air was thick and dark.  The light was dim and for a few seconds I didn't understand what was going on but the smell and burned areas quickly told me what was going on.  I ran down the hall woke up my kids and then my wife.  I didn't see any flames and it seemed the fire was out.  I went into the attic above the bathroom and did not see any damage.  The bathroom door being shut cut off the oxygen to the fire and it put itself out.  The above photos show where the light fixture was and the second photo shows where the light casing dripped to the floor and started a towel on fire as well as a children's toy.  The floor burned well into the plywood. 

We had over $8,000 in damage.  The soot was sucked into our furnace intake vent which is just outside the bathroom door and the soot went all over the house.  The insurance company sent a clean up crew the next day and ran a huge air cleaning machine overnight.  They scrubbed every surface of the bathroom and did their best to get the soot off but it still remained in a few places.  The soot is really nasty stuff!  Another crew came out and cleaned the carpets and air vents.  We ended up with a new tub surround, sink/vanity, light above the sink, cabinet above the toilet, tub and shower surround, all the walls painted, new drywall in the ceiling, and a new bathroom fan-light combo.  What a nightmare that all was. 

I use CFL bulbs as grow lights for growing plants indoors in the winter.  I never thought that they were more dangerous than ordinary light bulbs.  I was wrong.  I did quite a bit of research to find out if it had happened to other people and did find a few stories online that were similar to mine.  I put together a list of what not to do with a CFL bulb as well as a video shown below.  Hope the info helps you.

Tips On What Not To Do With A CFL (compact fluorescent) Light Bulb

1. Never use a CFL bulb in an enclosed fixture unless that fixture is meant to use a CFL

2. Never use a CFL bulb in a bathroom fan.  The vibration greatly reduces the bulbs life and ruins the electrical components in the ballast of the bulb resulting in fire. 

3. Never use a CFL bulb in the pointed down direction.  The bulb's heat rises and burns out the ballast.

4. CFL Bulbs used near a door that gets slammed often will burn out faster.

5. Do not use a CFL bulb in a garage door opener.  The vibrations will burn out the bulb. 

6. Do not use a CFL bulb on a ceiling fan.  We have one that takes 6 bulbs and they were always burning out.


My Video of the whole experience and more fire photos are in the video:



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