Why is My Light Bulb Flickering?

Flickering light bulbs are a fairly common issue for homeowners — and no, they don’t mean your house is haunted. “Why is my light bulb flickering” and “what causes a light bulb to flicker” are perfectly normal questions to ask, and John C. Flood wants to provide you with all the answers so you can keep your home in good shape.

Typically, flickering light bulbs are an indicator of an issue with your electrical system. In this case, the problem may require the immediate attention of a skilled professional to correct the malfunction before electrical fires, electrocution, or other serious issues occur. In other, less-severe circumstances, a flickering bulb simply needs to be tightened.

But how can you tell the difference?

What Causes a Light Bulb to Flicker?

Troubleshooting what causes a light bulb to flicker is the first step to resolving the issue and keeping your home safe. Here are the most common causes of a flickering light bulb:

1. A Loose Bulb

If you’re curious do light bulbs flicker before they burn out, the answer is usually no, but they do flicker if they’re loose. When light bulbs are not twisted securely in their sockets, power flows unevenly, which can produce a flickering effect.

This issue is easily resolved. Simply cut the light off and wait until the incandescent or CFL light bulb has cooled before handling. Once the lightbulb is cool, gently tighten the bulb in the socket and resume using your light as normal.

2. An Overloaded Circuit

Is it common for your home lights to flicker when another device is turned on, such as your microwave, dishwasher, or other large appliance? If so, you likely have an overloaded circuit. Since most electrical equipment uses more current when it first starts up, it can cause your lights to flicker.

If the flickering light continues for more than a couple of seconds or it happens all the time, then you likely need your electrical equipment repaired or new circuits installed. Always work with a professional when dealing with electrical repairs and upgrades like this.

3. Light Bulb Type

Your choice of lightbulb could be the culprit behind the flickering. Fluorescent light bulbs frequently flicker when the room is cold or when the lights are just turning on. This is perfectly normal and not an issue to worry about. If you find it annoying, however, then you can think about switching out your fluorescent bulbs for another kind of bulb that doesn’t flicker.

Another instance when flickering is normal is in situations where you have a bulb that’s incompatible with a dimmer switch. If you use fluorescent or LED lights with a dimmer switch that is designed for incandescent or halogen lamps then you may run into a flickering problem.

4. Inconsistent Voltage

Typically, the electrical voltage in your home will vary slightly but it shouldn’t go outside the range between 115-125 volts. Anything outside this range can lead to some serious problems with your home and require the attention of a licensed technician.

If your home has an inconsistent voltage that varies outside what’s safe, your lights can flicker and you can run into other severe electrical issues.

Here are some other signs that you may be dealing with unsafe voltage changes in your home:

  • Lights dim at unexpected times

  • Lights dim when you switch on large appliances

  • Lights remain dim even after you’ve turned off large appliances

  • Bulbs burn out faster than they normally should

  • Electrical appliances shut off at random

5. Bad, Damaged, or Loose Wiring

This is another serious electrical issue that can be the culprit behind your flickering lights. If your lights keep flickering for no apparent reason and that flickering keeps getting worse, then you may have a wiring problem. Have a professional, licensed electrician come to inspect the issue to ensure your home is safe and not at risk of electrical damage.

Outdated, damaged, and loose wiring can cause serious damage to your home and family. Resolving the issue quickly is the best course of action.

Is a Flickering Light Bulb Dangerous?

The answer to this question is… sometimes. If your light bulbs are flickering due to an electrical issue like loose or damaged wiring, unsafe voltage levels, or even an overloaded circuit, they can be an indicator of a dangerous situation.

If your bulbs are flickering because the light bulb needs to be tightened or it’s the wrong type of bulb, then you’re not putting yourself or your home at risk.

If at any time you feel unsafe or unsure about a flickering light bulb, reach out to our expert team at John C. Flood. We can professionally inspect your home’s electrical system to diagnose the problem and provide you with solutions to keep you and your home safe.

How to Fix Flickering Light Bulb

Figuring out how to fix a flickering light bulb starts by diagnosing the problem. Start by troubleshooting the easiest potential problem: a loose bulb. Work through each potential problem to see if you can identify the reason behind your flickering bulbs. Once you know the reason, you can work with an electrician to resolve the problem.

Keep Your Electrical System Safe

The quickest way to figure out how to fix a flickering light bulb is to consult with a professional. Whether you’re just annoyed with flickering lights or concerned you have a serious problem at hand, John C. Flood can help.

Our team is always available to answer your questions or handle your repairs and upgrades. Contact us today at 703-214-5611 to schedule a service visit.

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