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What screw is hot on light fixture?

If you notice that one of the screws on your light fixture is hot to the touch, it likely indicates an electrical issue that needs to be addressed. A hot screw can pose a potential fire and shock hazard, so troubleshooting and fixing the problem is important.

Causes of a Hot Screw on a Light Fixture

There are a few common causes of a hot screw on a light fixture:

  • Loose electrical connection – If a wire connection is loose inside the light fixture, it can cause increased resistance. This resistance causes heat buildup, which makes the screw hot.
  • Faulty wire connection – A bad connection, like a short circuit, can cause electricity to flow through unintended paths. This also leads to excessive heat at the screw.
  • Overloaded circuit – If the light is on a circuit that’s overloaded with too many devices, the wires and connections can overheat. This will transfer heat to the light fixture’s screws.
  • Faulty light fixture – If the light itself has an internal electrical fault, it can cause components like the screws to overheat.

Dangers of a Hot Screw

A hot screw on your light fixture can pose a few potential dangers:

  • Fire hazard – Excessive heat buildup can lead nearby combustible materials to ignite. This could cause the fixture or surrounding objects to catch fire.
  • Electric shock – A hot screw may be energized. Contact with it could lead to dangerous shock, especially if you touch it while also touching a grounded surface.
  • Damage to fixture – The excessive heat can damage the fixture components, insulation, and wiring over time.
  • Tripped breaker – If the heat builds up too much, it may cause the circuit breaker to trip and cut power to that circuit.

How to Troubleshoot a Hot Screw

If you encounter a hot screw on your light fixture, follow these troubleshooting tips:

  1. Turn off the power – Shut off the light switch and circuit breaker supplying power to that fixture before doing any troubleshooting.
  2. Inspect connections – Remove the fixture cover and inspect wire connections. Look for any loose, damaged, or corroded wires.
  3. Check for shorts – Use a non-contact voltage tester to scan for shorts or hot spots in the wiring. Be very careful not to touch any components.
  4. Replace bad wires – If you find any damaged wires, splice in new wire using proper connectors.
  5. Tighten connections – Ensure all wire connectors and screws are tight and making solid contact.
  6. Check the load – Make sure the light isn’t overloaded with too high a wattage bulb. Use correct wattage.
  7. Test & observe – Turn the power back on and test the light. Carefully check if the screw is still hot after 15+ minutes of use.

How to Fix a Hot Screw on a Light

Here are tips to fix a light fixture with a hot screw:

  • Replace the fixture – If the internal wiring is damaged, replacing the entire fixture may be safer and easier than repairs.
  • Tighten connections – Loose wire connections are the most common cause. Tighten all screws, connectors, and electrical contacts.
  • Re-wire connections – Improperly connected or deteriorated wires should be re-done. Follow diagrams to ensure proper wiring.
  • Insulate hot spots – You can wrap any hot spots, like screws, with electrical tape as a temporary protective barrier.
  • Replace bad wires – Swap out any cables or wires that are cracked, fraying, corroded, overheating or clearly damaged.
  • Reduce load – If the circuit is overloaded, move devices to other circuits to reduce the electrical load.

Precautions When Dealing with a Hot Screw

Take these important safety precautions when troubleshooting and repairing a light with a hot screw:

  • Turn off power – Always turn off electricity to the fixture at the light switch and circuit breaker before working.
  • Allow to cool – Let the hot screw and fixture cool down completely before handling to avoid burns.
  • Use caution – When the power is on, carefully check connections wearing insulated gloves and using a non-contact tester.
  • Insulate hands – Wear rubber-soled shoes and gloves when touching any components to avoid shock.
  • Check wires – Make sure insulation isn’t damaged, and no bare wire is exposed when making connections.
  • No shortcuts – Follow proper procedures carefully when splicing wires or making connections.
  • Verify repairs – Turn power back on and monitor the light for 15+ minutes to confirm the screw is no longer hot before using regularly.

When to Call an Electrician

It’s recommended to call a licensed electrician if:

  • You can’t determine the cause of the overheating screw after troubleshooting.
  • The wiring inside the fixture is damaged extensively.
  • You need to replace the entire light fixture for safety.
  • The overheating persists after repairs and reducing the electrical load.
  • You don’t feel comfortable working with the electrical wiring yourself.

An electrician can use specialized tools and testing equipment to locate the source of overheating. They can also safely replace fixtures and wiring if needed.


A hot screw on your light fixture is often a warning sign of a larger electrical problem. Left unchecked, it poses serious fire and shock hazards. While you can troubleshoot basic issues like loose connections yourself, it’s best to have an electrician handle any extensive wiring repairs or replacements. Always exercise extreme caution when dealing with overheating electrical components.

Cause Risks Solution
Loose wire connection Fire, shock, damage Tighten all connections
Faulty wire connection Shock, fire Repair or replace bad wires
Overloaded circuit Heat damage, fire Reduce electrical load
Internal light fixture fault Shock, fixture damage Replace faulty fixture

With diligent troubleshooting and repairs, a hot screw on your light can usually be fixed or prevented from further issues. However, take care not to jeopardize your safety when dealing with any electrical problems. If in doubt, hire a professional electrician to properly inspect and repair your light fixture.