What does it mean when the lights in your home start to flicker?

While there are a few benign issues, flickering lights should not be ignored. In many cases they are the telltale sign of a much more serious electrical issues that requires immediate professional attention.

The occasional light flicker might be caused by a number of problems, some of which aren’t cause for concern. These include a problem with the lightbulb, a loose socket connection, or defective fixture. Inspecting your lights can often reveal if any of these are the issue.

However, while these causes might be to blame, they are not typical. More often, flickering lights are a symptom of a more serious problem.

Here are the 6 main causes of flickering lights.

1. Overloaded Circuit. If you notice flickering when you turn on a large appliance, you may be overloading the circuit.

Flickering that is brief and infrequent usually isn’t critical. This can happen in even the best-designed electrical systems, where larger loads have their own dedicated circuits. However, f the flickering is consistent or persistent it’s time to call a professional.

2. Utility Service. Sometimes the issue stems from the source. Your home likely shares a transformer with the surrounding homes. If a neighbor is engaging in heavy electrical use, it can cause your lights to flicker. This means the issue may lie with your utility service. An electrician can determine if it’s time to call them for a repair.

3. Fluctuating Electrical Voltage. On a standard, 120-volt circuit, your home should have a reading of between 115 volts and 125 volts. There are many reasons whey the voltage in your house might be too high or too low. 

Other signs associated with this issue include lights flicker or dim when large appliances are turned on, flickering keeps happening after the appliance is turned off, lights dim at random times, frequent lightbulb burnouts, and appliance malfunctions.

Incorrect voltage can be a safety hazard in your home and lead to an electrical emergency. That’s why it’s imperative to call an electrical to diagnose the problem immediately.

4. Loose Wiring. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that nearly 70% of home fires caused by electrical equipment and lighting can be traced back to loose wiring.

Sometimes wiring can be improperly installed, or loosen over time. This demonstrates the need for annual electrical maintenance. If your home’s electrical system has not been maintained annually, and you already have flickering lights, call an electrician.

5. Arcing. Not only can loose wiring cause your lights to flicker, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. If you have loose connections it can lead to a phenomenon called arcing. Arcing is when electricity jumps over a loose connection. Every time it jumps, or arcs, it produces very hot temperatures that can spark an electrical fire. 

Prevent arcing before it becomes a problem. Have a professional check for loose wiring in lights, switches outlets and the breaker panel immediately.

6. Main Connection. If the flickering occurs in several areas of your house, it likely means there is a bigger, underlying issues with your main panel.

If your lights flicker inconsistently, or for no apparent reason, call an electrician right away.

It might seem like a minor issue, but flickering lights can quickly turn into a serious problem. Even one loose connection can be enough to spark a fire or cause a major electrical issue throughout your whole house. 

If you’ve noticed flickering lights, and aren’t sure of the reason, it’s time to call an expert. These connections are dangerous and should only be handled by skilled, experienced electricians like the ones on our team.

If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. 775-841-9473