Why are my lights flickering?

An occasional light flicker in your home can be normal, but if you’ve noticed the flickering has started happening regularly, you might want to do some investigating. Some of the causes can be fixed fairly easily, but some might require a professional to come inspect and fix the problem. 

Here are a few reasons that your lights might be flickering:

Problems with the Bulbs

Let’s start with quick fixes. If the flickering is only in one of your lights, you should first check to make sure that the bulb is screwed into the socket tightly. Bulbs can become loose over time and eventually lose their connection with the socket. If that doesn’t work, try changing out the bulb to see if that solves the issue.

The flickering may also be related to the type of bulb that you are using. For example, fluorescent bulbs have a tendency to flicker, when powered up or in cold temperatures. When using LED bulbs with dimmer switch lights, you might experience flickering due to dimmer switches working best with dimmer bulbs.

Loose Light Plugs 

If the flickering is only happening in one lamp, the problem could be a loose connection between the plug and the outlet. First, you should check to see if the lamp’s plug is firmly in the wall socket. If it is not, try unplugging it, adjusting the metal prongs, and plugging the lamp back in again. If the problem persists, try plugging in a different lamp to see if the issue is with the lamp or if there is a larger issue. 

One way that you can fix loose plugs is by replacing the outlet or adjusting the position of the prongs before plugging it back in. When replacing the outlet, you can also use this time to change the fuse.

Faulty Light or Fixture Switch

When there is a poor connection between the light, fixture switch and the bulb you might see flickering. You should try gently wiggling the switch to see if this causes any flicker. If it does, then you’ve successfully found the problem. If your light is flickering, try toggling the switch on and off and see if this fixes the problem. If it does, then you know that the switch is the problem and should be replaced.

Overloaded Circuits

If you have noticed that the lights start flickering, blinking or dimming when a major electrical appliance comes on, then your problem may be an overloaded circuit. To break it down, this means that these appliances are pulling more electricity than the circuit can handle.

If the flickering is infrequent and only happens briefly when the appliance first comes on, then you may have nothing to be concerned about. It is normal for large electrical appliances to draw more current as they start up. 

You have a problem when the flickering happens consistently, is severe and/or doesn’t stop right away. The issue might be with the appliance and not the lights. This is a great time to call an electrician to find the source of the problem.

Voltage Fluctuation 

Fluctuating voltage is another cause of flickering lights. Signs include:

  • Lights constantly flicker when you turn on a large appliance
  • Flickering continues after the appliance has stopped running
  • Unpredictable, unexpected dimming
  • Lights burn out frequently

Slight fluctuations can be normal, but your home should always register between 115 and 125 volts. You can check your home’s voltage using a device called a voltmeter. If your readings average above 125 volts, you’ve found the underlying cause of your flickering lights. Having an electrician come and check things out can help find the best solution to resolve your voltage problem.