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Thread: Changing a Ballast in 110 volt light fixture

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Changing a Ballast in 110 volt light fixture

    In a commercial building are the hourly employeed maintenance workers allowed to change out a 110 ballast? Or is it only allowed by law to be done by a licensed electrician? What authority governs this? NFPA NEC OSHA?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Re: Changing a Ballast in 110 volt light fixture

    Well it is common to see apartment buildings hiring maintence men that do electric,plumbing,ac,etc and they have no license .Should it be allowed ? in my opinion no.
    Tampa Florida

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Mission Viejo, CA

    Re: Changing a Ballast in 110 volt light fixture

    Technically, it is either an OSHA or local jurisdiction issue and both are probably routinely ignored.

    The OSHA issue would be how the employer determined the employee, whether maintenance worker or licensed electrician, was properly trained or not to do the work. Local issues are too numerous and could range from business licensing to “right to use” issues.

    [ April 11, 2005, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: rbalex ]
    Robert B. Alexander, P.E.
    Answers based on 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Changing a Ballast in 110 volt light fixture


    I used to post here in 2002 for a while, looks like a few changes since then.

    As far as the ballasts, the shop where I work in corn country I do a lot of the maintenance stuff and minor repairs on most everything and if it's 220v or needs something more I usually just determine what the core problem is (like the furnace won't ignite, why) and then relay it to the foreman to tell the electrician or HVAC guy.

    I've worked alongside with the electrician many times as a helper/assistant in the shop when he is doing work.

    A couple of years ago they decided to replace all of the old 1950's ballasts with the new electronic deals and the slim tubes that go with them.

    There were over 125 of the 8' fixtures to do and scads of the 4', some with 4 tubes and 2 ballasts each .

    Well the foreman wanted me to do the work, and the electrician had no problem with it, actually while not a licensed electrician, I have trained with people as well as observed contractors when I worked as a superintendent/handyman of a 9 story commercial building. I tend to overbuild rather then under.

    Anyway, the new ballasts take one more wire than the old and it required moving leads and adding a length of wire.

    It was quite simple really, and the new ballasts all have labels clearly showing the proper hookup.

    It took about 2 weeks to do all that, all worked out just fine and we are enjoying the aprox 20% increase in light too.

    One thing that has happened over the years is a real puzzler, maybe you guys have seen this or heard of it, it's happened on both the OLD ballasts/tubes as well as 2 of the new ones, and that is one plastic end that holds the tube in place gives out. From what I have seen, it's always the spring end and the plastic cylinder that holds the spring in gets cooked, charred and the tube falls out.
    It's not a sudden thing with smoke or obvious burning going on, it seems to take time.

    Some of these fixtures are in the wood shop where two of the old thick tubes fell out, one landed on the tablesaw one night exactly when I flipped the lights OFF, another fell out during the day.

    So I attributed it to maybe wood dust causing a bad connection in the tube's pin.
    But this has happened in the other end of the place where there is no wood dust, and last week in a room that is really clean one of the tubes in the NEW fixture fell out one night when the place was closed, wierd thing is it fell 12 feet onto a hardwood floor from the ceiling and didnt break!

    There again, the spring end was charred, the brass plated spring inside was black, and I noticed the inside of the tube's phosphor coating had two cleared areas like the filament was arcing, the glass was totalyl clear there on both sides, about the size of a dime.

    I noticed on the adjacent fixture, one of it's spring ends was somewhat dark brown and charred too. I replaced both ends. The only thing I noticed on these two ends was that the lead wires going to them had some green copper oxide in the contact slot, the celing had what looked like an OLD water stain in th epaint, but it was all dry in the attic even though it was raining.

    It seems to me the cause might be this oxide from moisture I guess is causing a poor connection there and that resistance could be what is causing the problem. Only thing is I didnt think to look at this in the previous episodes so I can't say if they too had this.

    I scaned the end and include a photo below, just wondering if this might be a problem with these ends, brand, or the new ballasts. I'm inclined to think it's not the ballasts as this has happened with the original ones too.

    Ive worked in this place 7 years and we've had 2 old ones go and 2 new ones go like this out of about 125 fixtures which doesn't seem to indicate a product defect, so I'm guessing it has to do with the oxidation on the supply wire as shown.
    Thing is, so far no one has been hit by a falling tube, but it's a dangerous issue if you are in the middle of a cut on the table saw and a damn tube smashes on your head suddenly.

    One thing I'll say about this design is I never trusted those cheap wire push-in style arrangements, give me a good solid set screw or terminal screw to clamp that wire in good and tight over some piece of Taiwan plastic with a push-the-wire-in clip.

    Feedback on this anyone?

    [ April 12, 2005, 12:28 AM: Message edited by: lostnyc ]

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