Battery Equivalents and Replacements

Top Reasons For Flickering Lights and How to Solve Them

Every homeowner, at some point, has been puzzled by the sudden dance of shadows on their walls caused by flickering lights. While sometimes it's a mere fleeting occurrence, at other times, it becomes a persistent annoyance that hints at deeper underlying electrical issues.

Flickering lights are more than just a cinematic signal for the paranormal; they often serve as an early warning sign, a silent alarm of potential problems lurking within your electrical system.

Published: August 23, 2023.

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Voltage Fluctuations and Power Grid Issues

Voltage fluctuations in the electrical power supply can lead to lights flickering in the whole house.

These fluctuations can occur for a variety of reasons, including high demand for power in the local area, faulty equipment in the power supply chain, main connection issues, or issues with the infrastructure, such as damaged power lines.

When there's an unexpected change in the amount of electricity being supplied, light bulbs can react by momentarily dimming or brightening.

It's crucial for power companies to monitor and manage voltage levels to ensure consistent power delivery and reduce these fluctuations.

How To Solve It

First of all, if you check the voltage with a voltmeter, it should read between 110 and 120 volts. If the voltage is below 100-105 and more than 125 volts, you or your electric company may have a serious fault in the electric system.

Also, if you have a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply), it will warn you quite frequently about voltage issues - more advanced models even have a web interface that may be accessed via computer or smartphone, showing voltage fluctuations both visually or in the form of a chart.

Too high voltage can cause your bulbs to die faster, but it can also damage more expensive appliances, gadgets, tools, etc.

In that case, call a professional electrician to check your installations ASAP since too high voltage can be rather dangerous.

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Loose Bulbs

A simple and often overlooked cause for flickering lights is a loosely-fitted light bulb.

How To Solve It

If a bulb isn't screwed in tightly, it might have an intermittent connection with the socket, leading to flickering. It's always advisable to turn off the light switch, then check and tighten any loose bulbs.

This not only prevents flickering but can also eliminate potential fire hazards.

Faulty Light Switches

Sometimes, the switch controlling the light might be the culprit.

If the switch isn't connecting properly or is worn out, it can lead to the switch getting warm, or intermittent connections and, consequently, flickering lights.

How To Solve It

This issue can be diagnosed by observing if the flickering starts or stops when the switch is toggled. If a faulty switch is suspected, it's best to have it replaced by a qualified electrician.

Overloaded Circuits

Overloading a circuit with too many electrical devices can lead to flickering lights.

When other power-intensive appliances, like refrigerators, air conditioners, or heaters, cycle on, they can momentarily draw a lot of power, causing lights on the same circuit to flicker.

Homeowners should be aware of the load limits of their circuits and try not to exceed them to avoid such issues.

How To Solve It

Balance the power draw by moving plugged-in devices and appliances to other outlets/circuit breakers.

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Faulty, Loose, or Outdated Wiring

Old, damaged, or poor-quality wiring can be a significant cause of flickering lights.

As wiring ages, its insulation may degrade, leading to shorts or other issues. Rodents can also damage wiring by gnawing on them.

How To Solve It

In houses with old wiring systems, it might be time for an upgrade to ensure safety and eliminate flickering problems. The best course of action is to contact a professional electrician to check the wiring and replace it if needed.

Incompatible Dimmer Switches

Not all light bulbs are compatible with all dimmer switches.

When incompatible bulbs are used with certain dimmers, it can result in flickering.

This is particularly true for newer LED bulbs, which require specific types of dimmers.

How To Solve It

If you have recently installed a dimmer or changed bulbs and noticed flickering, checking for compatibility is a good starting point.

In most situations, one has to use a trailing-edge dimmer and LED bulbs that support the dimming function.

Faulty Light Fixtures

A malfunctioning or improperly installed light fixture can lead to light flickering.

If this malfunction relates to the fixture's electrical components, there's a potential for overheating or sparking, which could result in a fire.

Also, using a bulb with a wattage too high for a fixture can cause the light to flick and the fixture and its wiring to overheat.

While this may cause the bulb to flicker due to unstable connections or heat-sensitive safety features, the primary concern is the elevated temperature, which can be a fire risk.

How To Solve It

Fortunately, home LED bulbs require far less power than older incandescent bulbs, decreasing the danger of placing too strong bulb (in terms of Wattage) in any light fixture.

So, if you have a light fixture that regularly gets very warm and has an incandescent bulb in it, replace it with an LED bulb. If the fixture continues to warm up significantly, there is a more serious issue with that fixture - either replace it or repair it by a certified electrician (if applicable).

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Bed Electric Breaker

One of the most common reasons for flickering lights related to a circuit breaker is a loose connection.

Over time, the connections within the breaker box can become less secure due to repeated thermal expansion and contraction, vibrations, or simply age. A loose connection at the breaker can cause intermittent power disruptions, leading to lights flickering.

Also, breakers are designed to last for many years, but they don't last forever. A worn-out breaker might not maintain a stable connection or might intermittently cut off the power supply. This can result in flickering lights. If a breaker trips frequently, it can wear out sooner, and its performance may become erratic.

How To Solve It

Let the certified electrician check breaker connections, and if required, replace the breakers with new ones.

electric breaker

Few Final Words

While flickering lights might seem like a minor annoyance, they can sometimes indicate more severe underlying problems that can even lead to fire, electric shocks, and similar.

Although not every case of flickering lights indicates a fire hazard, the potential is there, especially when the underlying causes relate to the electrical system's integrity.

It's essential to diagnose and address the root cause of the flickering to ensure the safety and functionality of your electrical system. If unsure about the cause, consulting with a professional electrician is always recommended.

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