Flickering lights can be a nuisance and an inconvenience. While an occasional light flicker is normal, frequent flickering may be a cause for concern. Frequent light flickering may indicate a problem with your electrical system, which, if left unresolved, can lead to an electrical fire that could damage your property or even endanger your life. If your lights flicker often, here are some common culprits responsible for the flickering and actions you can take to stop it.
Loose Light Bulbs
If one or more light bulbs are flickering, check to see if they are tight. Over time, light bulbs may become loose and lose their connection with the socket resulting in flickering.
To resolve this issue, first, turn off the flickering light, and wait for it to cool. Then gently tighten the loose bulb before turning it back on. If the flickering persists, consider replacing the bulb.
Type of Bulb
Flickering lights may also be due to the type of bulb you are using. For example, fluorescent bulbs tend to flicker when it’s cold or as they power up. Usually, this isn’t a major cause for concern, but consider replacing your fluorescent bulbs with another bulb type if the flickering bothers you.
Fluorescent and LED bulbs also tend to flicker when paired with traditional dimmer switches because they aren’t designed to handle high electrical loads. If you want to use conventional dimmer switches, consider switching to halogen or incandescent bulbs built to handle higher electrical loads. Alternatively, consider getting dimmable LED bulbs and installing LED dimmers.
You may also want to consider upgrading to smart bulbs. Unlike conventional bulbs, they don’t require a physical dimmer switch. Instead, you can dim them directly. Thus they solve the problems created by traditional dimmer switches.
Faulty or Old Switches
Loose or poor connections behind a switch may cause flickering. Gently wiggle the switch to see if there’s a flicker. If there’s flickering, it’s probably the culprit. Turning the switch on and off may temporarily stop the flickering. However, for a more long-lasting solution, consider replacing the switch.
When you turn on an appliance like your microwave, dishwasher, air conditioner, or washing machine, do your lights start flickering? If yes, you may have an overloaded circuit, indicating that these appliances are drawing more current than the circuit can handle.
Heavy appliances like your air conditioner are power-intensive, and they require a dedicated circuit to function properly. If they share a circuit with other appliances, the circuit may become overloaded. Overloaded circuits are usually common in older homes that weren’t designed to accommodate appliances like modern washing machines.
Infrequent and brief flickering when you turn on heavy appliances isn’t a major cause for concern. However, if the flickering happens frequently and doesn’t stop immediately, the problem may be severe, and you may need to call an electrician.
Contacting a professional to resolve the problem is essential because if left unchecked, an overloaded circuit may damage your appliances or even jeopardize your safety.
Slight voltage changes are normal. However, your home’s voltage should always range between 115 to 125 volts. Voltage fluctuations outside this range may pose a serious problem.
Signs of unusual voltage fluctuations include:
- Lights flickering or dimming when you turn on major appliances
- Persistent flickering even after major appliances have stopped operating
- Unexpected dimming
- Light bulbs burning out faster than usual
- Appliances abruptly going off or malfunctioning
If you regularly experience any of the above signs, contact a professional electrician to help you resolve the voltage problem.
Electrical Utility Company Issue
Sometimes, flickering lights aren’t a result of an internal issue but an external one. You likely share a transformer with the surrounding homes in your neighborhood – meaning their loads affect your electrical supply.
For instance, if your neighbor turns on a heavy device, your lights may start flickering. If your lights constantly flicker, contact a professional electrician. If the electrician can’t pinpoint any issues within your home responsible for the flickering, consider contacting your utility service.
Loose and Outdated Wiring
Not only can loose and old wiring cause your lights to flicker, but it can also lead to electric fires. Therefore, loose and old wiring is a problem you cannot afford to ignore.
Loose wiring in a switch box, light, or outlet can result in electrical arcing. Electrical arcing occurs when the electrical current “jumps” from one connection to another. Left unresolved arcing can be catastrophic because it’s usually a leading cause of electric fires.
If you’ve observed an increase in flickering but you haven’t made any upgrades or changes to your electrical system, loose wiring could be the culprit. Loose wiring may stem from:
- A switch failure
- Loose fixture wiring
- Worn out breaker box connectors
- Loose service conductors in the main electrical panel
Contact an electrician immediately if you suspect loose wiring could be the cause of your flickering lights. If only one light fixture is flickering, you can attempt a DIY loose wiring inspection. However, ensure you turn off the light at the circuit breaker before checking the fixture. But, if you’re unsure about how to conduct a DIY inspection appropriately, consult a professional electrician.
Main Connection Issues
Lights flickering throughout your home indicate there’s a problem with your main meter box connection or main service cable connection. These areas contain high-capacity wires that should only be handled by a professional electrician. Contact an electrician immediately to resolve the issue.
Weak or Damaged AC Capacitor
An AC capacitor acts like a battery. It gives the compressor motor the power it requires to start. Unfortunately, like many machine parts, it’s prone to wear and tear. Over time, it can lose the ability to store energy. A weak or damaged AC capacitor may force your air conditioner to draw power from other appliances to power its compressor motor, causing your lights to dim or flicker.
If your lights dim or flicker whenever you turn on your air conditioner, contact an AC repair expert to examine your capacitor and have it replaced.
Stop Your Lights From Flickering Today
Most of the time, flickering lights usually aren’t a major cause for concern. They’re often caused by bad weather or minor issues like loose bulbs that can easily be fixed. Other reasons for flickering lights like turning on heavy appliances also aren’t something you should worry about. Flickering lights due to heavy appliance use is perfectly normal, and it isn’t a safety risk to you or your home. However, if you’ve noticed any of the problems above or you’re worried about what’s causing your lights to flicker, contact the experts at Huft Home Services to get to the bottom of the problem.
We are a certified electrical company that provides electrical services to residents of Sacramento and surrounding areas. If your lights flicker regularly, or you’re experiencing other electrical problems, our team of professional electricians can help you identify the cause of your electrical issues and provide a viable solution.
And if electrical services aren’t what you’re looking for, we also offer various other services such as cooling, heating, plumbing, and insulation. If you require reliable professionals for any of these services, don’t hesitate to contact us today to book an appointment.