Someone asked me last week if condensation on light bulbs is dangerous. While it’s not an electrocution risk, it is a sign of other problems, and I recommend dealing with it.
Why condensation on light bulbs won’t electrocute you
Condensation on light bulbs doesn’t put you in danger of electrocution. First, you’re probably not going to come in contact with it. Second, the condensation probably isn’t going to come into contact with electricity to a degree to complete a circuit. Third, even if it did come into contact, you touching the bulb would likely disturb the condensation enough to interrupt the path. Fourth, in a bathroom, you’d be standing on an insulated floor, so the electricity can’t find its way to ground through you.
So condensation on light bulbs isn’t dangerous from an electrocution standpoint, which is probably what you were worried about. But the same problem that causes condensation on light bulbs can cause other problems, and that deserves your attention.
Condensation on light bulbs means condensation on walls
If you have water condensation on your light bulbs, it means you have condensation on your walls and windows too. Over time, the condensation on your walls and windows will cause the walls, ceiling, and/or window frame to deteriorate. It can also cause mildew to grow in the bathroom. You definitely don’t want any of those things.
It can also cause your light switches and light fixtures to break down more quickly, leading to light bulbs not lasting as long. That’s a more minor issue than mildew, but still, it’s an unnecessary irritation.
The cheapest solution is to run your bathroom ventilation fan while you’re showering. This vents the moist air to the outside before it can cause any damage. If you or your housemates can’t remember to run your ventilation fan while you’re bathing, consider wiring your fan to the same switch as your light, or installing a humidity sensing fan switch. These solutions are more expensive, but much less expensive than repairing water-damaged walls. Having purchased houses with water-damaged bathrooms, I can vouch that it’s cheaper to install a $50 switch than to deal with water-damaged walls. A humidity sensing switch makes a good quality of life improvement while preventing other repairs down the road.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.