5 Reasons Your Lights Are Flickering


There’s nothing more frustrating than flickering lights in your home or place of business. Flickering lights are distracting, annoying, and can be alarming if you’re unsure of the cause. While a light that only flickers occasionally likely isn’t anything serious, a frequently flickering light or lights could indicate a real problem.

What Does it Mean if Your Lights Flicker?

Determining what causes lights to flicker will depend on a few factors. Is it a single light bulb flickering when turned on, or an entire part of your home experiencing flickering lights? Below are some common electrical problems that can lead to lights flickering in your home or office.

Faulty Light Bulb or Loose Plug

If you’re experiencing light flickering from a single light source, it could be as simple as a dying, loose, or faulty bulb causing the problem. Start by making sure your light bulb is screwed in firmly. If it’s been some time since you’ve changed that specific bulb, install a new bulb and see if the problem persists. If the bulb is old or just a dud from the start, it could be the culprit.

If the light flickering you’re experiencing is from a lamp, make sure the lamp is fully plugged into the socket.

Faulty Light Switch

Flickering lights could indicate a problem with your light switch. Problems with a faulty light switch or damaged wiring to the switch can often be characterized by light flickering as well as audible sounds from the switch. Buzzing, popping, and sizzling sounds means that the current that usually flows through the metal pathways is now arcing and jumping a gap between the damaged wires.

If you suspect that the light flickering is due to a faulty switch or bad wire connection, flip the switch into the off position and consult a professional. Problems with wiring in a light switch can be a fire hazard and should be handled by an electrician.

Overloading a Circuit

If you’re noticing lights flickering or dimming when an appliance is turned on, it’s often due to an overloaded circuit. Each device on the circuit utilizes a certain amount of electricity when it’s in use, which adds to the overall load on that circuit. When you use more electricity than the circuit is equipped for, you’ll overload that circuit.

While a brief light flickering when you turn on the microwave isn’t necessarily a major cause for concern, it’s still worth checking into. This is especially true in cases where flickering is constant or more severe.

Outdated and Loose Wiring

67% of house fires that originate from lighting or electrical distribution are caused by wiring problems. If you’ve noticed your lights are flickering consistently, without an obvious cause, it could be loose wiring in your home. Any faults in your wiring, connectors, light switches, or breakers could leave a gap in the circuit. When electricity tries to jump these gaps, it causes inconsistencies in the current running through the circuit, leading to flickering lights.

This is one of the more alarming causes of flickering lights that should be addressed immediately. If left unrepaired, the electricity that is making that jump between gaps left by faulty wiring can set fire to wall insulation.

Faulty Electric Meter Box

If you’ve noticed all the lights in your home flickering, it could indicate a larger problem with your meter box connection. The meter box is what measures the amount of current your home draws. If it’s faulty, it could be what’s causing your lights to flicker.

If you meter box is having issues, you may also notice unusual power outages as well as spikes in utility bills.

Safety Warning

When you’re having electrical problems at home, it’s never a good idea to try and fix the issue yourself. DIY repairs on electrical problems in your home could lead to injury, fire, or at minimum worsen the existing issue and cost twice as much to repair. Always call a professional who can properly diagnose the problem and act accordingly.

Need an Electrician in Pierce County?

Tapps Electric is your go-to for commercial and residential electrical services in Sumner, WA. From hot tub electrical installation to electrical repairs and more – our team of skilled electricians are always up to the task! Check out the Tapps website for more on our services or give us a call today at (253) 344-4622.

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