Flickering Lights? 4 Possible Causes and What to Do

According to the latest federal data, an estimated 354,400 U.S. home fires occurred in 2019. Of that number, electrical malfunctions accounted for about 6.8%.

Flickering lights, in turn, are early signs of a malfunctioning electrical system. However, there are also times when they’re not dangerous and are easy to fix.

So to help you maintain electrical safety at home, we came up with this guide on why lights go on and off by themselves. Read on as we’ve also listed tips on what to do when your lights flicker.

1. Loose Connections

Each time you switch a light on, the bulb’s and fixture’s bases expand as they heat up. Then, when you turn it off, the same components contract while they cool down. Some movement may then occur if there’s a difference in how much (or how fast) they contract or expand.

Over time, that can loosen the bulb enough that it no longer touches the fixture’s contacts. As a result, it may lead to flickering due to a lack of a secure connection.

In that case, switch the light off first and, once cool enough, screw in the bulb tighter. That should do the trick if the problem is only a result of a “self-unscrewing” bulb.

2. Compatibility Issues With Dimmer Switches

Another reason why lights flicker is dimmer switch incompatibilities. For example, a dimmer switch made for an incandescent light bulb won’t work well with an LED bulb.

So if you have LED bulbs connected to an older dimmer switch, check if it’s for incandescent ones. If so, replace it with one specifically designed for LED products.

3. Malfunctioning Light Switches

Flickering isn’t always due to faulty light bulbs; the switches themselves may be to blame.

An example is a switch that feels like it wiggles or doesn’t go all the way into its terminal. Even if it turns the light on, its looseness may cause the toggle to pop back up and down. As a result, the bulb may go on and off, too, causing flickering.

In that scenario, the best way to stop lights from flickering is to get the switches fixed or replaced. An electrician can also check for and repair loose, faulty, or aged wiring.

4. Overloaded Circuit

Suppose you live in Denton, TX, where summer temperatures can soar up to 96° Fahrenheit. During such days, you likely set your AC thermostat lower to try and counter the heat.

The lower your thermostat setting, the more power the air conditioner draws in. That can then result in a circuit overload, causing your lights to flicker.

Unfortunately, overloaded circuits can also be fire hazards as they carry excess electricity. All that energy can cause the system to overheat, wear out the wires, and possibly ignite a fire.

So, lights flickering and dimming each time you turn on the AC may signal an overloaded circuit. In this case, it’s best to start looking up “electricians near me” online.

Never Ignore Flickering Lights at Home

As you can see, some causes of flickering lights, such as loose bulbs, are benign and easy to fix. However, call an electrician ASAP if you think the problem is due to a faulty switch or a circuit overload. Because if either is the culprit, your home can be at risk of an electrical fire.

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