If you're experiencing dimming or flickering lights in your home, don’t dismiss it as simply an annoyance.
While there are some situations liek a loose connection that are easy to fix, it could be a dangerously serious electrical issue that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.
Know when flickering or blinking lights is an easy solution and when it’s time to call an electrician before someone gets shocked or before any electrical fires breaks out.
4 Minor Issues For Flickering Lights | Check These Possible Causes First
Not every flicker of the lights indicates a serious issue. These are simple & easy things to check that sometimes get overlooked by some homeowners.
You might be one of the lucky ones and discover the issue is caused by something as simple as loose connections with a light bulb, a loose light plug that is not completely plugged into an outlet, or an individual light switch or light fixture that needs to be replaced.
1. Loose Bulb
If you notice an occasional light flicker with only one light or consistently when a large appliance kicks in, it may be a simple culprit.
Light bulbs that are loose in the socket will receive inconsistent power supply, which causes the flicker.
Turn off the light. Wait for the bulb to cool down before touching it. Check to make sure the light bulb is screwed in tightly and that it is the right kind of bulb for the fixture.
2. Type of Bulb
The flickering or blinking lights could be due to the type of bulb you are using. A fluorescent bulb, for instance, tends to flicker when it is warming up.
3. Dimmer Switch Bulbs
If you are using a dimmer switch, make sure the light bulb is compliant. It may be as simple as loose bulbs or the wrong bulb type for your dimmer switches.
LED bulbs often flicker when they are used with a dimmer switch since they are incompatible with non-LED dimmers. You might even want to swap your bulb out for a smart bulb that won’t need a physical dimmer switch. If this doesn't do the trick, it could be a faulty light switch.
4. Loose Plug Connection
Also, make sure that your plug has not come loose from the outlet. If the prongs on the plug are bent, simply unplug it and pry the metal prongs open before plugging it back in.
Possible Causes of Lights Flickering | Zero In On The Problem
Flickering lights are nothing to ignore even in an older well designed electrical system. You already ran through the 4 minor issues & loose connections, but the problem continues.
It could indicate an extreme concern due to your electrical system that is unable to handle higher electrical loads. There are several possible causes that need to be addressed immediately to avoid shock or house fires.
If the flickering problem is stemming from a serious issue, take note of these:
- Persistent - Did it happen just once?
- Severe - Was the flickering barely noticeable or very apparent?
- Consistent - Is it happening every time you turn on a specific appliance?
These major causes include:
1. An Overloaded Circuit
If you notice flickering when you turn on a large appliance, you may be overloading the circuit. One or more circuits may be experiencing an overload.
If the flickering is brief and infrequent, it is probably not too serious. However, if it happens all the time or lasts more than just a few seconds, it’s time to look into the circuit overload.
Never attempt to fix this issue yourself. Always call in a professional electrician to make sure it’s done safely and properly.
2. Utility Service
Sometimes the issue stems from the source where the electricity is being serviced, your electric company. This is especially a problem if homes nearby share a transformer where your electrical supply is shared by their electrical loads.
Simply put, if your neighbor is using a lot of electricity, your lights may start flickering. If this happens, contact an electrician to determine if any repairs need to be done.
3. Voltage Fluctuating
Most homes are on a standard 120-volt circuit, so your home’s electrical voltage should stay between 115 volts to 125 volts.
Check this yourself with a voltmeter. If the reading is more than 125 volts, you may have a serious fault in the electrical system.
One telltale sign of a high-voltage or sign of voltage fluctuation problems includes light bulbs burning out faster than they should or lights dimming inconsistently without warning and for no other apparent reason.
Look for signs of voltage change that could be a huge concern:
- Lights flicker or dim when you turn on large appliances or larger loads
- Flickering keeps happening even after the appliance is turned off
- Lights dim at random and inconsistent times
- Light bulbs burn out faster than they should
- Appliances or electronics are malfunctioning or turning off
Call a professional electrician immediately when you encounter a matter that requires urgent attention before the high voltage leads to a dangerous catastrophe.
4. Old or Loose Wires
Loose wiring may not seem like a big deal, but it is often very dangerous. According to The National Fire Protection Association NFPA, almost 70% of home fires are caused by a wiring issue.
Two of the most common electrical wiring culprits are loose or outdated wiring. Sometimes old wiring may have been improperly installed or become corroded wire over time long before your lights start flickering.
Loose wiring can cause arcing. Arcing is when the electrical current has to jump over a bad connection to keep flowing. Every time it jumps, or arcs, it produces very hot temperatures that can end up sparking and causing an electrical fire.
Each arc often exceeds 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit or about 5,500 degrees Celsius.
Prevent arcing before it becomes a problem. Have a professional check for loose wiring in fixtures, switches, breaker box connectors, over-worn breaker box connectors, and loose service conductors in the main electrical panel.
6. Main Connection
If lights are flickering in several areas of your house, it could be an issue with the main connection or service cable connection.
If your lights flicker inconsistently for no apparent reason, call a professional electrician immediately to check your main meter box connection.
Lights Flickering in House | When Should I Be Concerned?
Not every flickering light is a cause for alarm. However, if you are not sure of the reason for the flicker, it’s better to call in an expert to check everything out.
The cost of a professional electrician is far worth it compared to a mishap by doing it yourself. Don’t try to walk through it alone.
Here are some possible issues that can occur if you are inexperienced and tackle major issues on your own:
- accidental shock, serious injury, burns, or death
- improperly installing wiring could lead to a dangerous fire hazard
- insurance may not cover electrical damage costs
- creating a bigger problem by trying to fix it yourself
You want to avoid these issues by having a professional electrician diagnosis the problem.
One thing you can be sure of is that when your lights start to flicker, you are probably not being haunted by a ghost, and it’s not your eyes playing tricks on you.
However, before you sleep easy, make sure it is not a serious issue when you notice the first sign of danger. Ignoring flickering lights could lead to electric shock, electrocution, or often a spark that causes a house fire.
Don’t ignore flickering lights. Whether you need an electrician in Charlotte, NC or any of our other licensed Electricians located around the country, we will help you get back your peace of mind.
You can also hire our electricians in St Louis if you reside there and are looking for a professional electrician.
Call a professional at Bates Electric to come to inspect your wiring and circuit boxes to make sure everything is in proper working order for your safety.
Can flickering lights cause a fire?
Yes, flickering lights can be a warning sign that there is a fire hazard in your home. When lights flicker all over the house and are not associated with a large or major appliance, such as an air conditioner, turning on it could mean that there is an issue with the wiring, which could cause a fire.
Can flickering lights be caused by a bad breaker?
Yes. A bad breaker can cause lights to flicker, especially when a large appliance powers on. A high-wattage appliance will pull a considerable load of current on startup.
If the central circuit breaker is overloaded, it may cause lights to flicker but also indicates a larger problem that will require an expert to troubleshoot and fix.