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What to Do When a Porch Light Won’t Stay On?

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A porch light is for more than just keeping it easy to see in the dark; it is used to ensure safety, protection, and peace of mind. So, keeping it in working order is extremely important, but what do you do when a porch light doesn’t stay on? Let’s take a look.

When your porch light doesn’t stay on, you should first check to make sure the bulb is in working order, then check to see if the fixture is getting plenty of electricity; if that doesn’t fix the problem, you should call a professional for assistance. 


There are a few different things you can do when your porch light doesn’t stay on, and in the article, we will be addressing them all while giving you some step-by-step instructions, tricks and tips, and all the knowledge you need to get your porch again. 

What Should You Do When Your Porch Light Won’t Stay on?

If you are having an issue with your porch light staying on, here are a few things you can look at yourself before calling in the professionals.

Check the Light Bulb

Electrician checking and changing light bulb

First, check the light bulb to ensure it is in working condition; if the bulb is faulty or is about to blow out, the porch light won’t work properly. 

You also want to check that the bulb is securely in place. If your lightbulb isn’t screwed into the socket tight enough or the metal socket tab has flattened out, the bulb will not receive enough energy, and the light will flicker or go on and off intermittently.

Check the Switch

If you didn’t find any issues with the lightbulb, the next thing to check would be the light switch. If the wires are loose or crossed, the fixture will not work properly.

While the most common source of trouble is at the switch itself, you might also want to check the circuit breaker and, worst-case scenario, wiring to the lighting fixture through the wall.

Check the Socket

An electrician using a multimeter to check voltage in a domestic socket outlet

Although this is not nearly as common as the other issues, sometimes the light socket will go bad, and the bulb connection isn’t secure. You will have to replace the entire light socket to remedy this issue. 

Check if it has a Safety Feature

Some light fixtures are specifically designed to shut off if it gets too hot automatically. You might notice that, at times when the temps rise, or the light is left on for long periods of time, it will switch off automatically, only to turn back on a little while later after it has had time to cool down.

If you believe this is the issue, the best way to handle it is simply by purchasing lights with a lesser wattage, so the bulb doesn’t get too hot.

country porch in grayscale

Why Does My Porch Light Shut Off After a Few Minutes and How to Fix it?

Sometimes homeowners find themselves dealing with porchlights that shut off within minutes or even seconds of turning them on. If this is the case, there are three major issues to consider. 

A Faulty Switch

If you flick on the porch light switch and it doesn’t take very long for the bulb to go right off, it is almost always a problem with the switch.

More often than not, if the switch wire connection is bad, you will be able to hear a zapping or buzzing sound coming from the fixture. 

If the switch is the problem, you can easily remove it and replace it with a working one. Always remember to shut off the power to the fixture before unscrewing the switch box. 

Tripped Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

Closeup of a hand resetting tripped gfi electricity

Another option to consider is the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. Because many outdoor electrical sources have electrical wires running underground, a ground fault circuit interrupter is added to the setup in order to shut off as soon as even the smallest amount of water makes its way inside the wires.

If you have old wires or live somewhere the ground is often wet; the GFCI might be your problem. To fix the problem, you will have to reset the GFCI, which is easy to do. Just locate the GFCI box and press and hold the reset button until you hear it click. 

If you experience this problem often and you are certain it is the GFCI, you can buy a “bubble” to go around the box to prevent water from entering the outlet.

Tripped Circut Breaker

If you have checked everything else and it seems to be in working order, you should check on the circuit breaker box.

This is a metal box located against a wall in your home, typically found in the garage, basement, or utility room. These boxes are where power from the grid located outside of the home connects to all of the wiring inside.

Your porches circuit breaker can trip for a few different reasons, including:

  • Faulty wiring
  • Corrosion
  • Rodents
  • Dry Rot
  • Overuse of lighting and power

If the circuit breaker senses an issue with your porch light, it will trip the circuit breaker, killing the power to that area of the home within seconds. 

If a circuit breaker is the issue, you can quickly turn your light back on by locating the flipped switch; if your porch light is flipped off, all you have to do is switch it back to the on position. If this doesn’t solve your problem, the issue might go deeper into the wires requiring a pro.

home porch light

What Should I Do If I Can’t Figure Out Why My Porch Light Keeps Shutting Off?

Sometimes electrical problems can be tricky and typically require a professional’s help if the more common issues are not the cause. Sometimes the problem might not be your light fixture at all.

Call the Electrical Company

If you have checked the lighting fixture, bulb, wires, breaker box, GFCI, etc., and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, you should call your local electrical company and see if problems are going on in your area or if they have to check out the electrical wiring going to your home.

Never attempt to fix any issues with outside electrical issues, as this can be extremely dangerous; your electric company shouldn’t give you any problems coming out if you have questions or concerns.

Call in the Professionals

When all else fails, it may be time to call in the professionals. Electricians are educated in everything there is to look for that you might never think about checking.

Sometimes you will get lucky, and they can solve the problem within a matter of minutes, and other times, re-wiring or other bigger projects may be required.

When you do make the decision to hire a professional, always call around to get the best price and make sure you choose a reputable and highly rated company, so you won’t have to worry about being scammed or overcharged for their services.  

Summing Things Up

There is a lot to think about when trying to troubleshoot why your porch light won’t stay on. Luckily, the problem comes with a fairly simple solution most of the time.

However, if you have trouble getting to the bottom of your lighting issue, call in the professionals instead of going it alone; this may save you time, money, and a trip to the hospital in the long run.


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