How do I Troubleshoot an Outdoor Sodium Light Problem?

Outdoor sodium lights are either low-pressure or high-pressure lighting to illuminate large areas with bright light. This type of lighting is effective as a security light with a photocell to illuminate at dark and remain on until daylight. Some models do not include a photocell and switch on and off manually. An outdoor sodium light that does not illuminate may have a faulty bulb, wiring inconsistencies or need a replacement photocell.

Outdoor sodium lights provide intense lighting for security.

Step 1

Place a ladder or step stool near the light, if need be, to acquire height to reach the light fixture. Turn off the power to the light at the switch or breaker box to prevent burns. Let the light cool for about 20 minutes.

Step 2

With your hand, press the fixture lock on the side of the fixture and swing the door open. The fixture lock may be on either side of the fixture depending on the brand and model of light. The door swings open in the opposite direction of the lock on hinges.

Step 3

Observe the sodium bulb for darkness inside or breakage. If the bulb is black inside the glass or broken, you need to replace the sodium bulb. Remove the bulb by turning it in a clockwise direction. Pull the bulb straight out of the fixture. Place a new bulb in the fixture and tighten it in a clockwise direction.

Step 4

Check the wire nuts connecting the electricity to the light. Hold a wire junction in one hand. Grasp the wire nut with the other hand. Twist the wire nut counterclockwise while pulling it out to remove it. Observe the two wires inside. Each of the two wires should be wound tightly together with no signs of corrosion in the junction. Clean any corrosion off connections with a wire brush, twist the wires together and replace the wire nut. Repeat this process for the additional connection in a wire nut.

Step 5

Close the fixture door. The door will make an audible snapping noise when it closes fully.

Step 6

Turn on the power at the switch or breaker box. Place a small cardboard box over the photocell eye so the box rests on the top of the fixture. A box from a macaroni-and-cheese kit or other dinner side dish works well. Wait about 10 minutes to see whether the light illuminates. If the light does not come on, the photocell is defective and needs replacing. If the sodium light does not include a photocell, ignore this step because the light should be in working order.