What's Causing My Lights At Home to Flicker?
You've noticed a problem in your home: flickering lights. You're understandably concerned. Flickering lights are a problem for sure, but just how much of a problem depends on the cause. Knowing the potential reason behind your flickering lights and how to trouble shoot the problem can help you decide if you need help from a reputable electrician.
If you do need help from an electrician in Dallas and Fort Worth, be sure to hire a licensed electrician with insurance and a bond. If your home is having an electrical problem, failure to find and resolve the issue could lead to an electrical fire. It's important to hire a business that you can trust to help you fix the problem.
Overloaded or Short Circuits
Your home's electrical system is divided into circuits that supply power to the various electrical devices and appliances in your house. Each circuit only carries so much electrical load. When too many devices are plugged in to once circuit and turned on at once, some devices may not get the power they need for prime operation.
For example, when the dishwasher comes on, the lights may dim temporarily. Your dishwasher should have a dedicated circuit, but this can happen if your dishwasher is sharing a circuit with devices like lamps and overhead lights.
Just as an overloaded circuit can be a problem, so can a short circuit. A short in the circuit connected to the light can cause a variety of problems including flickering lights, sparks, heat and buzzing sounds.
Loose wiring connections can lead to inconsistent electrical service to devices and outlets. Loose wiring may sound like a small thing, but it can lead to arcing and a potential house fire. Loose wiring can occur anywhere in a home's electrical system, especially if your home has aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring contracts more than copper wiring, which can easily lead to loose connections.
Outdated wiring and loose connections can go hand in hand. If your home has very old wiring, it may be time for an update. At the very least, a good inspection can determine whether your home's old wiring is in good condition.
Light bulbs flicker when they're loose. This is the best case scenario for a flickering light because it's a simple fix, and it's not a danger to you or members of your family. If you're noticing a light has suddenly begun to flicker whereas before it did not, checking for a loose bulb should be your first course of action.
Incorrect Type of Bulb
Sometimes using the wrong type of light bulb can cause flickering. LED bulbs, for example, are incompatible with dimmer switches and may flicker when used in fixtures connected to dimmer switches.
Some LED bulbs are sensitive to overheating and when used in enclosed fixtures will quickly deteriorate. If you're using the wrong type of LED bulb in an enclosed fixture, you may notice the bulb begin to fail (flickering and dimming) within a few months of putting the bulb in the fixture.
There are LED bulbs that are made for enclosed fixtures, but they need to be purchased specially. Look for these bulbs at your local home improvement store.
This is another best-case scenario when you're dealing with a flickering light in your home. If the problem is a lamp, always check the plug to see if it's been pulled partially from the receptacle.
Problems with Service Cable Connection
A problem with your home's service cable connection can lead to electrical problems in your entire home. Lights and other devices can be affected. Problems with this high capacity wire need to be diagnosed by an electrician and fixed by an electrician as well.
Fluctuating Electrical Voltage
Fluctuating electrical voltage can happen for many reasons, including loose connections, inadequate load sharing, overloaded network and more. A standard 120 volt circuit should have a reading between 115 and 125 volts. If the voltage of the circuit is fluctuating frequently, or if the electrical load is pushing higher than the circuit can safely handle, this can lead to flickering lights and other problems. This can be a serious problem that requires immediate intervention from an electrician. Get help from a professional you can trust.
Issue With Electric Service from Utility
If you live in a neighborhood with many other homes, your home is probably getting its electrical supply from the same source as your neighbors. If your neighbor is using a heavy load of electricity, this could lead to electrical troubles in your home and other homes that share the same transformer.
Where Are the Lights Flickering?
One of the first and most important things to notice when you're trying to diagnose a problem with your home's lights is which lights are flickering? A single flickering light is likely having a localized problem, either within the light itself, or in the wire or receptacle that connects to that light.
If several lights within one room are flickering, this is potentially a problem with the circuit that the lights are connected to. Remember that circuits can cover multiple rooms, so it's important to determine whether any other lights in your home are also experiencing the same problem. If your home's circuits haven't been mapped, you can determine whether all affected lights are on the same circuit by turning off the circuit at the electrical panel. As a side note, this is a good reason to map your home's electrical panel.
Finally, if the lights are flickering all around your home, there could be a number of issues causing this problem, including an issue with the transformer or the electrical service reaching your home, a problem with the connection to the main service cable, or fluctuations from the power grid. On the other hand, this could also point to a serious problem with your home's electrical system. Get help from an electrician quickly to identify the problem.
When you've noticed a problem with the electrical service in your home, some basic troubleshooting can save you money and time hiring an electrician. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where is the problem occurring? Which lights are affected?
- Is a light bulb loose?
- Are these LED light bulbs rated for enclosed fixtures or being used with a dimmer switch?
- Are the lamp plugs fully plugged in? Is the lamp plugged into an extension cord, and if so, is that extension cord plugged in?
- Does the extension cord feel warm, or is it frayed at any point?
If you're noticing buzzing noises, soot on the wall near the light or the receptacle it's plugged into, this is a sign of a problem and should be addressed by an electrician as soon as possible. If you can't find a simple solution to your problem (tightening a bulb, plugging in the lamp properly, changing the light bulb), find an electrician you can trust to help you with this problem.
What Could Happen?
The worst-case scenario if your home is having a serious electrical problem is an electrical fire. Arcing, for example, is a problem that occurs when electricity jumps a gap between two conductors. This can cause flickering lights, and can ignite combustible materials around your home's wiring.
Why Do the Light Bulbs In My Home Keep Going Out?
Sometimes the problem isn't flickering lights, but light bulbs that keep blowing out. This can be caused by loose connections within the light fixture, arcing, and use of the incorrect light bulb in the light fixture. If you aren't using the wrong light bulb in the fixture, talk to your residential electrician.
Have concerns about your home's wiring, breaker box, connection to the electrical service cable and other issues? Talk Add-All Electric in Dallas and Fort Worth and the surrounding area.