While flickering lights are a fairly normal occurrence, this shouldn’t happen so much that you start feeling like you live in a haunted house. Some people purposely install flickering torches, or purchase Christmas lights that have a flickering effect. But what we’re talking about here are normal lightbulbs that flicker on and off, seemingly for no reason. Keep reading to learn the most common reasons your lights are flickering from least serious to most serious, and remember that for lighting installation and a full range of other electrical services, you can always count on our experienced electricians at All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical.
Not a Serious Problem – Loose Lightbulbs
When you notice that your lights are flickering, you should always start with the basics. That means first examining how tightly your bulbs are screwed in. Bulbs can become loose for many reasons, so this is an extremely common explanation for flickering lights. Simply turn your light switch off, put on pair of protective gloves, and carefully screw your light in and out. Be careful not to screw your bulb back in too tightly, as this can cause problems, too. Even recessed lighting can flicker due to loose bulbs, so before you call an electrician, carefully complete this process and see if your lights continue flickering.
Somewhat Serious Problem – Old Switches & Wiring
If you live in an older home, your light switches may not be compatible with modern lightbulbs. This frequently happens with old dimmer switches, which were not made to work with incandescent bulbs. If this is happening in your house, you may need to upgrade your dimmers/other switches to fit with your energy-efficient lightbulbs.
It is also possible for flickering lights to be caused by bad/old wiring. The unfortunate reality is that homes where the wiring was not installed by an experienced electrician frequently experience problems over time. Wiring can also experience general wear and tear and may become damaged for various reasons, such as rodents using it to chew on.
If the reason your lights are flickering is connection problems between your fixture and your wiring, you may need to hire an electrician for rewiring service. Watch out for a buzzing noise coming from your lights or switches, as this can indicate a real problem. Bad wiring may lead to sparking and electrical fires, so you should always call an electrician when you hear this noise ASAP.
Serious Problem – Overloaded Circuits or Outdated Electrical Panel
An overloaded circuit is a serious problem that can cause your lights to flicker and may even lead to blackouts. It is possible that you are overexerting your electrical system if your lights are flickering and you are using several appliances at once. If you keep having problems while running your appliances, try spreading your electrical devices out with some power strips and consider calling for surge protection to ensure your system is protected. If this does not work, chances are you are living in an older home that is not equipped to meet your modern electrical needs.
If you live in an older home that’s having a hard time keeping up with your power demands, you will probably need to upgrade your electrical panel. For reference, older panels were usually constructed with 60s amps capability, while modern panels are equipped to handle 120 amps or more. It’s also worth remembering that many older homes were built with Zinsco and Federal Pacific Electric brand panels, which were later linked to electrical fires and even electrocutions. Regardless, your lights should not start to flicker just because you are using more than one appliance at once, so if this is happening in your home, it is imperative for the safety of your entire household that you act immediately.
To test if your electrical panel is what’s causing your lights to flicker, turn off the circuits that are connected to any of the problematic lights. If those lights continue to flicker when you turn them back on, there is a strong chance you may need to install a new panel. If you hear a buzzing sound coming from your electrical panel, shut your entire electrical system down and call an electrician right away, as this is a strong indicator that there is something wrong with your panel, and that you may have a dangerous problem on your hands.
Don’t put up with the headache of flickering lights anymore! All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical is available 24/7 for your emergency electrical needs. Call us at (909) 253-0664 to get to the root of your problem, or contact us online to request a free estimate.