It’s not uncommon for your lights to flicker briefly from time to time. People will often notice flickering when there’s a storm in their area that causes a temporary dip in voltage flowing to their home. However, persistent flickering that’s unrelated to the weather is a signal of a deeper issue. So, what’s the cause of your flickering lights?
Common Causes of Flickering Lights
Some bulbs have a bit of a flicker naturally, but if a bulb starts flickering when it hasn’t before, it’s time to look into the issue. Sometimes fixing a flicker is simple, but other times it requires the help of an electrician. How can you tell when it’s time to call for professional help?
1. Type of Bulb
Certain types of bulbs are more prone to flickering than others. Fluorescent bulbs, for example, naturally flicker as they warm up. They’re also more susceptible to changes in ambient temperature, so if it’s colder or hotter than normal, you may see some fluctuations in the light.
If fluorescent bulbs flicker even after they’ve warmed up, it usually means that they’re old, and it’s time to replace them. If you’ve recently changed the bulb and it didn’t solve the issue, then there could be a problem with the ballast (a device that limits the flow of electricity to the fluorescent bulb).
If you aren’t comfortable changing the ballast or fixture yourself, schedule an appointment with our electricians! We’re happy to replace it for you.
2. Old or Incorrect Dimmer Switch
Sometimes your bulb is not the cause of the flicker. Dimmer switches wear out over time with repeated use, so it may be time to replace it. When you purchase a new switch, make sure that it’s compatible with your light. Dimmer switches for traditional incandescent bulbs are very likely to flicker when paired with a new LED fixture.
We’re sure that we don’t really need to ask you to check this, but did you make sure that the LED bulb or fixture that you chose is dimmable? If not, the best you’ll get out of it is a flicker, not a complete dim.
If you want to skip the headache of choosing the right bulb and the right switch, you might consider buying smart light bulbs. They’re dimmable with an app on your cell phone or tablet, so you don’t have to worry about getting the right switch and fixture combination.
3. Loose Light Bulb
If you don’t get your bulb screwed into the fixture tightly or it comes loose over time, it could flicker. When the bulb isn’t making full contact with the socket, the electrical connection will be weak, which presents as a fluctuation in light.
This is the cheapest, easiest flicker to fix. Simply screw the bulb in tighter, and you’re all good! Just make sure that you either let the bulb cool before you tighten it or wear an oven mitt to protect your hand from the heat.
4. Insufficient Electrical Current to Your Home
If you notice a pattern where turning on a large appliance, such as your dryer, HVAC, or microwave, causes lights in your home to flicker or dim, then it’s likely that your electrical panel is insufficient to power your entire home.
Many major appliances draw a large current from your panel to power up. However, older homes with small fuse boxes aren’t equipped to handle the electrical burden of our numerous modern appliances. Consider how much our lives have changed since the fuse box was installed in your home 50 or 60 years ago!
You can try switching to LED bulbs throughout your home since they draw less electricity than incandescent. However, your best option is probably to upgrade your panel to avoid more issues in the future. Get in touch for an electrical panel consultation or upgrade.
5. Faulty Connections or Old Wiring
Sometimes, flickering lights are a symptom of a more serious issue like a poor connection or old wiring. Like everything else, wires age and wear out over time. As they do, they become a fire hazard.
While the most likely cause of a flicker is something simple, you should address the issue right away since ignoring it could lead to a fire. If you’ve tried one or several of our fixes above and your light is still flickering, schedule a consultation with one of our electricians. We can safely identify the issue and help you find the best solution.
Get Rid of The Flicker!
Is that flicker driving you crazy? Then it’s time to get in touch with Barnett to learn more about why your light is flickering, and what we can do about it.