light bulb smells like chemicals

It could be a cause for concern when you notice your light bulb smells like chemicals. But, don’t panic, because, in this guide, we’ll discuss everything!

We will give you information as to why your light bulbs are releasing those fumes, as well as discuss if it’s toxic or if it’s just fine.

The chemical smell emitted by light bulbs is usually plastic parts and components that are heated for the first time. In other cases, it could be caused by the burning of the plastic component of the light bulbs, wiring, or dirt/debris.

Before we get to that, let’s uncover the truth about the fumes and the odor of your light bulbs. Why do they emit this smell in the first place?

Why Do My LED Lights Smell Like Chemicals?

If your LED light bulbs give off an odor, it could mean a couple of things. They include:

  • The light bulb is new (first-time use)
  • Wiring or cabling problems of the light bulb
  • The power/energy the bulb draws exceeds the recommended
  • Higher bulb wattage

Now that we know all about this, don’t immediately panic when you sense an odor emitted by your light bulb.

If your light bulb is new, then the reason why it’s emitting chemical odors is that the components are heated for the first time.

On the contrary, if the LED light isn’t new and you notice that it’s emitting odors, then you need to try to treat it.

What’s the truth about these fumes and odors? Could they be toxic and have negative effects and impacts on our health?

Are Light Bulb Fumes Toxic?

In answering this, it’s important to know and be aware of the composition of these bulbs. Most bulbs contain mercury, which we all know is a toxic component.

People can inhale mercury as a vapor and when this happens, long-term respiratory problems could start to appear. But would a broken light bulb be so toxic that it would emit mercury? Yes and no.

When a CFL bulb breaks and cracks, it releases mercury vapor in the air continuously.

It can even stay in the atmosphere for weeks, even up to months. If it’s left unmanaged, the amount of mercury could exceed the safe levels of human exposure.

That’s why it’s important to get rid of the broken bulb immediately when it breaks.

To make matters better and to ensure the safety of the people around it, follow these steps:

  1. Take out the light bulb and clean the broken shards.
  2. Make sure the room is well-ventilated and air it out for about 4 hours.
  3. When disposing the light bulb, seal it in a container before dumping it in the bin.

Light Bulb Smells Like Chemicals? Here’s What You Have to Do

get rid light bulb smells like chemicals

If you’re using your light bulb for the first time and you smell chemical odors coming from it, it’s usually not something serious.

But, what if it’s not your first time using it? What are the best courses of action you need to do to get rid of the smell?

Step #1: Turn the Light Bulb Off

Before troubleshooting your light bulb, the first thing you want to do is to turn it off.

If you’re not sure if it’s turned off or turned on (because the light bulb is faulty), switch it off at the mains.

Don’t risk it; it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Step #2: Check the Bulb’s Wattage 

After that, what you want to do next is to check the wattage of the bulb. The higher the bulb wattage, the more power it absorbs.

This can cause the burning odor to come to life, which is what your current problem is.

So, what you have to do first is to check the capacity of the fixture, then the power of the light bulb.

Check this on the packaging or at the box/label of the light bulb. You will know what the wattage is because it will be detailed on the packaging.

If it’s higher, change to a new bulb with better compatibility.

Step #3: Ensure That There’s Ventilation

After that, what you want to do is to make sure that your bulb is well-ventilated.

The weak and bad circuitry of light bulbs can cause it to overheat, which is another possible culprit why your light bulbs are emitting a bad odor.

Even if your bulbs are LED, they still need ventilation. With constricted airflow, the high heat and temperature that the bulbs are generating can cause it to overheat.

Should the area where the bulb is fixed already be enclosed, then what you have to do is install external instruments to give it the space it needs.

You’ll need some type of guard to the fixture so a gap would be provided between the light bulb’s circuitry and housing.

It wouldn’t be directly fixated on the socket; instead, it can give the bulb the space it needs for breathing.

Step #4: Check the Wiring/Connection of the Socket

Now that we’re done with the bulb, what we need to do next is to test the socket it’s connected to.

There are times and instances where the socket’s wiring is the reason for the bad smell or odor, making it seem like the bulb is the problem.

Here’s how you can check or test your light bulb socket.

  1. Unscrew the mount and use a circuit tester and touch one probe.
  2. Then, turn the socket’s power off via the breaker panel or the box.
  3. Test the socket again and see if the tester responds.

NOTE: You’ll know that the socket is faulty when it doesn’t respond or when it gives you a different result when powered off.

If the wiring’s going bad, contact a local electrician and ask for their assistance. There’s not much you can do about it if the problem is with the socket’s wiring.

Step #5: Clean the Bulb and the Area Around It

Lastly, make it a habit to clean the area of the bulb at least once (1) every two (2) weeks.

Dirt, dust, and other types of debris that could be produced by the ceiling could drop to the vicinity of the bulb.

When this heats up, it can contribute to the chemical smell or odor because it’s being heated by the energy generated by the bulb.

Here’s how you can clean a light bulb as well as the area around it.

  1. Turn the area’s power off via the breaker.
  2. Remove the light bulb from the socket.
  3. Use a feather duster or lint-free cloth to get rid of dust and dirt around the socket.
  4. For cleaning the bulb, use a solution to clean the exterior of the bulb.

NOTE: If you are to wet the socket and the bulb’s area, ensure that it’s dry before putting it back to power and placing the fixture back in again.

When you’re done doing this 5-step process, the burnt smell on your bulbs should be gone!

Many of you may have thought that attempting to fix and get rid of the odor would require you to replace the bulb you have in place, but you don’t! 

My Light Bulbs Still Smell Like Chemicals, What Should I Do?

If and only if the odor is persistent even after you did the 5-step process, then it would be time to contact an electrician or an expert about it.

Tell them all the things they need to know, including when the light bulb was purchased when you started to notice or smell the odor, as well as the troubleshooting steps you tried performing.

This way, they’ll know what further troubleshooting steps they need to do to help you with your dilemma.

Read Next: Why Do Light Bulb Glows When Switched Off?

Bottom Line

There are numerous reasons as to why your light bulbs smell like chemicals. They could be because you’re using them for the first time, the bulb having higher wattage, or problems with the wiring of the LED bulb!

In case you’re wondering and asking, why do light bulbs smell like chemicals, you already know what to expect!

If you ever encounter this problem again in the future, you don’t need to look for different references – this guide alone will be enough to get you the answer you’ve been trying to find!

Nicole B