Why Do My Lights Keep Flickering?
Besides Christmas tree lights and faux flame bulbs, the site of flickering lights in your home can be very frustrating. However, no need to worry because the issue may be more straightforward than you may think. Usually, the flickering pattern of your lights can help you diagnose the underlying issue.
When investigating the problem, look out for patterns such as when the flickering happens, the typical duration, and frequency of occurrence. It is always prudent to do some personal investigation and try a few simple fixes before consulting an electrician. Here are some common reasons behind flickering lights and their possible fixes.
One Light Flickering
If your light flickering problem is isolated to one bulb only, perhaps it could be because it is due for replacement or loose in the socket. This is arguably the simplest problem to solve and should be no cause for alarm.
Lights Flickering in One Room
Having multiple flickering lights within a contained area can be quite worrying. In most cases, the probable cause for this issue is a problem with your home’s circuitry. Since circuit issues can be dangerous if left unchecked, it is best to act on this issue by calling an electrician for further diagnosis quickly.
Lights Flickering When Powering on a Large Appliance
A large home appliance, e.g., a refrigerator, washing machine, or oven, can add a significant load to your home’s central circuit breaker. That said, having several large home appliances and using them simultaneously can strain your home’s main circuit breaker.
Adding an unbearable load to your home’s main circuit breaker can cause several lights to flicker throughout your house. This problem is usually too technical to handle for most people and may require an inspection from a competent electrician to determine whether an electrical service upgrade is necessary.
Lights Flickering throughout the House
If the flickering is not limited to a contained area in your home and is not triggered by large home appliances, it may signal a larger problem. The most probable causes for such flickering are electrical service issues, e.g., loose service conductors in the central electrical panel. These electrical service issues could cause much bigger problems than flickering lights, e.g., fires, requiring immediate evaluation by a competent electrician.
As mentioned earlier, it is always a good idea to evaluate the flickering in your home and try some simple fixes before calling an electrician for help. Here are some simple fixes you can try for the less complicated electrical issues.
Tighten Loose Bulbs
As apparent as this solution is, it may sometimes not be the first idea that comes to mind. If you have a few flickering lightbulbs, turn them off and put on some gloves to protect your skin from excessive heat, then screw them into their sockets tightly. Since loose lightbulbs do not make enough contact with their sockets, they tend to flicker randomly.
Switch to Smart Bulbs
Smart bulbs not only help improve the quality of your home’s lighting but also help you get rid of old dimmers. If only one light is flickering, and you are sure it is not due to a loose connection, replacing it should help.
The type of bulbs you use could affect the flickering in your house. For instance, fluorescent bulbs tend to flicker in cold temperatures or when powering up. LED bulbs, on the other hand, tend to flicker when paired with dimmer switches. This is because dimmers are designed for high electrical loads, making them incompatible with low-voltage LED bulbs.
You can avoid flickering by ensuring your dimmable bulbs are compatible with their respective switches. However, if flickering persists while using dimmer switches, it is best to upgrade to smart bulbs that do not require physical dimmer switches. Dimming via a smart bulb is arguably more reliable, not to mention its potential to solve the dimming problems associated with old wiring or old dimmer switches.
Change Incompatible or Old Switches
If you have ruled out the bulb as the cause for the flickering, proceed to evaluate the wall switches. Modern bulbs such as LEDs and incandescent bulbs connected to an old dimmer switch may flicker because they are incompatible. Also, loose wiring behind the wall switch could cause flickering.
To avoid mismatches, check the dimmers and the bulbs’ ratings to ensure they are compatible. If you decide to install a new dimmer, turn off the circuit breaker’s power before handling any wiring.
If your lighting issues persist after these simple fixes, then the underlying cause probably affects your entire house. Such problems have the potential to damage your electrical appliances and expose your house to the possibility of an electrical fire. Therefore, never hesitate to consult a competent electrician.
Check for Loose Wiring
If your home’s wiring is old or performed poorly, your lights may begin to flicker, buzz, or both. Loose wiring is among the most common causes of electrical fires in homes and is, therefore, something you should take seriously.
If you have tried different ways of solving your flickering issue with no success and suspect the underlying cause is loose wiring, call a competent electrician immediately for further evaluation. A good electrician should evaluate multiple potential causes and diagnose your lighting issue accurately.
Check the Current
Like loose wiring, overloaded circuits are a huge risk to your house’s electrical system. HVAC units and other large home appliances demand a lot of power to run and could make your lights flicker by drawing too much current from your circuit.
The common culprits behind this problem are weak circuit breakers and inadequate wiring to large appliances. To pinpoint the appliances that draw too much current, power each load one at a time and listen for buzzing at your circuit breaker. If you cannot replace your circuit breaker, contact an electrician to advise you on the best one to purchase and have them install it for you.
Mister Sparky Electrician Houston, America’s On-Time Electrician, serves Houston, Texas and the cities of Katy, Sugar Land, Cypress, Spring, The Woodlands and others with a team of certified electricians. In addition to emergency electrical repairs, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repair, ceiling fan installation, lighting installation, wiring repair, landscape lighting installation and home electrical inspections. Call us today at: (281) 907-8418.