When you notice lights flickering in your house there could be a number of reasons that might be causing the problem. If you start to notice lights behaving unreliably, get the situation taken care of ASAP. There’s a potential for the risk of electrical fire or serious injury as a result of a short or another fault in your wiring — problems which are usually easily resolved by an electrician.
Take note of when the flickering is happening and where (the whole house, a specific room, a single circuit). Also keep track of when; does it happen when other appliances turn on? At a given time of day or night? Constantly? The more information you have when you call an electrician, the easier it will be to get the problem repaired. The following list of possible causes will help you troubleshoot flickering lights.
Flickering Due to the Type of Bulb
Florescent bulbs have a propensity to flicker frequently, due to a variety of everyday factors, including cold temperatures, the bulb burning out while in the socket (tip: replace the tubes to stop this from happening), and the general way that phosphors power up their maximum level. If your florescents flicker every now and again, it’s probably not a huge concern.
For LED bulbs, the most common cause of flickering relates to dimmer switches. These dimmers are manufactured to handle higher electrical loads that don’t always coincide with the lower voltages of LEDs. Before swapping out your standard lightbulbs, take an inventory of your existing dimmer make and model, and then cross-check the compatibility to ensure everything will work seamlessly.
How many homeowners does it take to change a light bulb? The solution could be as simple as twisting the bulb so that it sits tightly enough into the socket to make the necessary connection.
Wiring, Switches or Fixtures
Loose or outdated wiring is one of the leading causes of house fires. If you try the above troubleshooting techniques and your lights still flicker, this could be a sign of loose service conductors in your main electrical panel, an outdated breaker box with worn connectors, or a switch failure. In any event, whether it’s a system-wide problem or confined to one location, these problems can quickly turn into a fire hazard; call an electrician to pinpoint the problem.
Flickering Due to Voltage Fluctuation
Lights often flicker (or brown out) during storms for this reason. In threatening weather, it’s a smart idea to unplug appliances, make sure anything you absolutely must have on is connected to a surge protector, and be prepared for a full outage. If the weather is fair or the power company is not reporting problems, however, the problem could lie with the power drop to your house, or the distribution inside your house. These voltage fluctuations can be very dangerous, so it’s important to get them looked at.
Is there a bad connection on a light or lamp, or in a fixture’s on/off switch? If so, this may cause flickering.
You can see if the issue is the connections by wiggling the on/off switch. If the light starts to dim as you are wiggling it, chances are the issue is a bad switch. Keep in mind, while it may be easy to replace a switch located in the lamp cord, ones integrated into a socket are more challenging. It’s best to leave this to the pros.
Overloaded circuits can put your home’s electrical system at risk. Large appliances and HVAC units can cause lights to flicker when they power on, because they are drawing a large current from the circuit.
This could point to inadequate wiring to the appliance or a circuit breaker that isn’t quite up to snuff. Contact a professional to be sure your circuit breaker is up to the task of powering everything in your home safely.
If you’re trying to pinpoint which appliance is causing flickering, start by powering each load on at the circuit breaker. Buzzing could also occur in this instance, so listen to each circuit as it is powered on.
An overloaded circuit breaker is dangerous and in addition to bothering your lights, could even damage your appliances.
Your Next Move
You should always contact a licensed electrician whenever you consider upgrading or repairing anything electrical. Electricity is nothing to play with, and attempting to fix a problem on your own could worsen your issue or create a bigger problem than you know how to fix. When it comes to installing dedicated circuits, you want to make sure the process goes smoothly and causes no issues.
At D.O.C. Electric Inc., we have the know-how to assist you. We’ll send out a professional electrician to help you figure out which appliances deserve dedicated circuits so that you can configure the electricity of your home more efficiently and logically. To get in contact with an electrician today, contact us, and we’ll help you get your circuits sorted out.