Dangerous Stuff at the Dollar Store?

I made the mistake of buying some bulbs at one of those stores where each item is a dollar. We bought some candelabra type bulbs for a ceiling fan light that were branded with the Sunbeam name. My thinking at the time of the purchase was how they were just bulbs, so what could be the problem? It’s not like I was buying food of some brand I never heard.

The reason I’m writing this is because there have been some television news segments and print stories touting the great buys that can be found when shopping at the stores where each item is only a dollar. Since the economic downfall, I have heard of the benefits and great deals to be found at these retail stores. However, maybe there are some things that just are not worth buying at a such a store.

The shelves are packed with items that appear to not be popular enough to get sold out at regular prices at other retail outlets. However, could there be another reason why the shelves are packed with products for only a dollar? Could there have been other issues preventing the products from being sold in other retail stores? I’ve seen products in mislabeled or misspelled packaging. That isn’t a big deal. Many things are made and packaged in China, so packaging typos are not a problem with the product.

My Sunbeam bulbs appeared to be in packaging that was okay. No issues with misspelled words was found.  In this case, it was the product that had a problem. The bulbs worked okay as far as lighting up but when I went to replace one that eventually burned out, the glue holding the glass bulb to the metal base had separated from the glass bulb.

The bulb was loose in the metal base. I checked the ones still in the fixture that were not burned out, and all of the bulbs had come loose from the metal bases. They were just being held in place by the bare wires coming out of the base of the glass bulb. I had to shut off the power to the fixture and use a tool to remove one bulb that came completely out of its base when I tried to unscrew it.

Take a look at the photos:

Failed Sunbeam bulbs from retail store where products are a dollar each. Two unused ones on left.
Sunbeam bulb base showing the glue.
Closeup of Sunbeam bulb with glass separated from metal base.
Closeup of glue in metal base of Sunbeam bulb.

I’m sticking to paper products and maybe a few other non-electrical products the next time I shop at a store where everything is a dollar. I wonder how those Sunbeam bulbs got to the store in the first place? Did Sunbeam or the purchasing department for the store know that there was an issue? This is a fire and electrical shock hazard. Sometimes a discount just isn’t worth it. It wasn’t just one bulb that had the problem.  All of the Sunbeam bulbs I put in the ceiling fan that were purchased at the dollar store had the glass come loose from the metal base.  Are we being sold products that are known by manufacturers or distributors to have safety problem? All I can say right now is buyer beware.

7 Replies to “Dangerous Stuff at the Dollar Store?”

  1. Glass bulb separation from its metal base because of cement failure is not an uncommon problem, but it does seem to occur more often than it did fifty years ago, at least from my perspective. It isn’t an electrical safety hazard, in my opinion, during the lifetime of the lamp. Trying to get the burned out lamp out of its socket is when problems occur.

    After removing electrical power to the light fixture, I usually twist on the glass bulb, as if removing it, until the two lamp filament wires break. The glass bulb can then be removed and discarded, leaving only the metal base, now firmly stuck in the lamp socket.

    Any number of prying tools can be used to remove the metal base. Sometimes a large flat-blade screwdriver is all you need, but I generally start with a pair of heavy-duty long-nose pliers. Firmly grip the exposed edge of the metal base and twist counter clock-wise. If that doesn’t loosen it, bend the sides inward with the pliers until the coarsely threaded metal base is no longer in contact with the socket. If it’s still stuck, the base center contact has probably been “welded” to the spring center contact in the lamp socket. Some careful rocking and twisting motions will usually break the “weld” without damaging the center contact in the socket.

    After finally successfully removing the lamp base, inspect the center contact for damage. If necessary, polish off any “weld” residue with a fine grit sandpaper to leave a smooth contact surface. Or, if you have one, a hand-held rotary power tool with a flat-end grinding stone makes quickl work of it. Before inserting a replacement lamp, I apply a thin film of petrolium jelly either to the socket or the lamp base. The heat of the lamp will melt the petrolium jelly and leave a thin protective film that hopefully will make removal easier when the lamp burns out. Don’t go overboard on this: just a little dab spread evenly with out finger tip is all you need.

  2. I have had the same trouble with many different light bulbs of all brands. The problem was a fixture that keeps heat around the socket, rather than carrying it away. The extra heat causes the glue to fail.

  3. I bought bulbs from Lowe’s and Home Depot.
    They did the same thing also….
    Could it have something to do with the vibration with the fan?

    1. I think the fan makes poorly made glue in the bases of the bulbs work loose. It should not happen with good bulbs. Do you know which brand it was you got from these stores? Were they listed as being made in China? I heard that there is an issue with Chinese compact fluorescent bulbs too.

  4. Cody, I too have had problems with the ceiling fan light bulbs, purchased on-line from overstock.com and a couple of other sellers. Sylvania was one manufacturer that had that glue problem that led to me getting shocked while screwing in a NEW bulb!
    Also, on a different tangent, I’m curious to know if we may be related. My grandfather was Manly Alderson, one of a number of Aldersons I’ve come accross in doing my family tree, many from the Pensylvania and Michigan/Ohio areas. Traced back to the Arzt family from Germany so far. Most all have been military, including myself and my aunt Lucy, both of us Navy vets.

    1. I have never heard the name “Manly Alderson” mentioned by any relatives. Thank you for the info about the name “Arzt.” I’m going to have to look that up to see if it is connected with my last name.

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