Why Are My Lights Flickering? Do I Need To Call An Electrician?
Flickering lights at home are a sign of an electrical problem you need to fix right away. Ignoring it could mean getting electrocuted, damaging your appliances, or having a fire break out. The three leading causes are:
- Loose Connections Or Bad Switches
- Overloaded Circuit
- Grounding Problem In The House
We’ll address each of these here: What they mean, how you can troubleshoot them yourself, and what to do about each one.
That said, the solution is almost always to call an electrician. Excess current flowing through your house is no joke, and it’s not something you can fix yourself.
Still, it’s important to spot the warning signs of a serious problem. And, it’s always a good idea to know more about how the electricity in your home works.
If you need an emergency electrician in Blue Bell, PA or anywhere in MontCo, Philadelphia, or Bucks, call us right away at (215) 768-8102. Your Home Solutions is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And, when you call, you’ll speak to a live electrician immediately. They’ll start by walking you through some basic troubleshooting steps for free. Then, they’ll send someone out to you right away if you need a professional — any time, day or night.
But, before we go any further, let’s make an important distinction.
Flickering Lights Vs. Dimming Lights
Flickering lights is when your lights keep blinking on and off. It may constantly happen or occur in spurts, but they’ll flicker quickly. Dimming lights is when the bulbs stay on but give off less light for a few seconds and then come back.
Dimming or flickering lights are caused by different underlying problems. We’ll cover dimming lights in another article.
But we’re focusing on when they flicker here because that’s often a more severe problem. Long story short, your lights may dim when you’re drawing too much power to a single circuit. That’s why it usually happens when you turn on another appliance or electronic device. It’s still dangerous, but there are more possible reasons your lights are flickering.
What Causes Lights To Flicker In A House?
The lights in your house might flicker due to anything from a bad setting on a dimmer switch to an overloaded circuit to a grounding issue that affects the whole house and can eventually start a fire or electrocute you.
Only One Light Is Flickering In Your House
Just one light flickering in the house is likely due to a faulty switch, the wrong type of bulb, or a bad connection. For instance, if you’re using a dimmer switch without a bulb made for that, it may not work correctly. Sometimes, the bulb gets too hot and triggers a thermal protection switch.
That can cause a flicker. If the problem occurs with a regular switch, the switch may be old or the connection’s loose, so the electrical flow isn’t strong or steady.
What To Do
Your first step is confirming no other lights in the house are affected. Then, ensure the bulb is screwed in all the way (make sure it’s cool before you touch it!). After that, call an electrician. They’ll test the switch and usually install another one to see if that solves the problem.
Lights Flicker When Appliances Are Running
Lights flicker an appliance draws power from an overloaded circuit. It’s the result of too much electricity flowing through those lines. Your circuit breaker usually trips when this happens. That prevents an overloaded circuit from damaging your panel or causing a fire.
But, before that happens, you might get some flickering. That’s still bad because you’re wearing out your wiring, and it may be heating up to dangerous levels.
What To Do
Turn off whatever you’re using immediately. Then, try plugging in just one thing and see if the problem goes away. You’re probably using too many things on one circuit if it does. After that, an electrician can help you use less power on the same circuit or recommend rewiring it.
This is important: DON’T turn anything back on if you notice a burning smell, buzzing sounds from your appliances, or scorch marks near the outlets or panels! If you can manually flip the breaker, better yet. Then, call for an electrician right away.
It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night. If there’s been too much power coming through the wiring for a while, you’re on your way to a fire.
Lights Flicker In Part Of The House Or Throughout The House
All the lights on the same circuit will flicker when that circuit’s overloaded. Depending on how your home is wired, you may see it in more than one room. But, there could be another, bigger problem at hand — especially if all the lights in your home flicker: A grounding problem.
Right now, we’re telling you to call an electrician immediately if you also notice electric shocks (even light ones!) when you touch appliances or plumbing fixtures. And, if your internet connection is also spotty.
When a dangerous amount of electricity surges through your home, it can jump the wiring and flow through your water pipes. Then, you’re on the way to a fire or a serious injury.
Grounding provides a path for excess electricity to leave your house. You never, ever want more power than necessary surging through your wires, your panel box, and especially your appliances and electronics.
That’s what causes things to overheat and catch fire.
Instead, a grounding rod or other device gives that excess current a path out of your home and safely into the ground.
If it’s not set up, or it’s broken or disconnected, your entire home is surging with current.
We see this a lot in older homes, especially in Blue Bell, Northwest Philadelphia, and Abington — neighborhoods with beautiful older and historic houses.
Over time, old grounding rods deteriorate or disconnect. But, it can even happen with new construction.
Can Flickering Lights Cause A Fire?
Yes! Flickering lights are caused by loose connections, overloaded circuits, and grounding issues. Those problems are common causes of electrical fires in tens of thousands of homes each year in the U.S. Most of those fires start in the bedroom.
Emergency Electrician In Blue Bell, PA, And Surrounding Areas
Never ignore flickering lights! Overloaded circuits and grounding issues can and will cause injury or a fire. Your Home Solutions will send out an emergency electrician right away in Blue Bell or anywhere in MontCo, Philly, or Bucks County. We’re here 24/7 at (215) 768-8102. You’ll speak to an electrician right away.