why does my fluorescent light not work

Rapid Start and some Instant Start fixtures must be connected to an
electrical ground in order to start properly. In addition, the metal
reflector of the fixture must be correctly installed so that it is within
1/2 inches of the lamps AND is in electrical contact with the ballast. A
capacitive field is created between lamp and the metal reflector by the
ballast during the starting process, and without this field, the lamps may
reach normal operating brightness only by an external influence, such as an
increase in capacitance caused by you touching the lamps, or by an increase
in light (ionization) in the area coming from other sources. A fixture that has a power cord is grounded through the ground prong
on the power plug. In North America, the round prong is ground. Some older buildings have outlets that do not have grounded outlets (sometimes
called two-prong outlets instead of three-prong), and a three-prong cord
can be plugged-in only by use of a "cheater" adapter.

These "cheaters" do
not provide a ground, and this can make a fluorescent fixture malfunction
that is connected to them. Have a proper grounded outlet installed for use
with the fluorescent fixture. For fixtures that are wired permanently to the buildings electrical system,
a ground wire should have been provided as part of the building wiring. In some older commercial buildings, the metal conduit served as the ground,
but newer electrical codes require a ground wire to be installed, even
when metal conduit is used. If the fixture is permanently installed and the
building wiring lacks a proper ground, have a ground installed for locations
that need them.

The most likely cause of a fixture grounding problem that suddenly occurs
is in the fixture itself, because fixture designs usually rely on clips,
screws or other metal fasteners to force electrical contact between the
metal reflector and the ballast. This grounding can be defeated if these
parts are missing, or if the fixture or replacement parts have been
re-painted in such a way that the metal parts now can't make good electrical
contact. Always ensure that all fasteners that came with the fixture are
re-installed after servicing. When replacing a ballast, use a piece of
sandpaper to scratch the paint off the ballast case at the points where the
ballast makes contact with the metal fixture. This will help ensure that
the ballast is making good electrical contact with the rest of the fixture.

The ground wire from the ballast (normally green in color) must be
connected to the electrical supply ground wire, and in some fixtures, a
special terminal is provided on the fixture to tie the ballast and supply
ground wires together while also making a solid electrical contact with the
fixture. Such grounding points may employ a green-colored screw to
distinguish them from screws and other hardware meant to mount the fixture.
Confirm your wall switch is good. Bad switches can be intermittent. Turn off the switch and take the tubes back out and put them back in making sure they're fully snapped in. It's worth a try. Don't go buy more, but if you have other new tubes try them. If the lights work for a period of time and go out on their own, that usually indicates an over-heating ballast - replace the ballast.

Otherwise, the best test for a ballast is just what you did, try new tubes. If no luck, replace the ballast. While replacing the ballast, make sure all of the wires in the sockets are well connected. Give them each a little tug. If you can't get a wire to stay in a socket replace the socket, maybe replace all 4. Fluorescent lights need to be grounded to work properly. Make sure a ground wire is attached to the fixture. I've seen fluorescent lights, especially in old homes, where the people say they're always replacing tubes, and it's because the fixture isn't grounded. If you're going to replace the ballast or the entire fixture consider going with an electronic ballast maybe even T8 size tubes. Amazon sells the smaller clips you'd need for a retrofit to T8 U-Bent tubes - ASIN B00A3WGR0W.

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