Do you have flickering lights? Or buzzing light bulbs? These issues can be annoying, frustrating, and perhaps dangerous. While some causes are easy to resolve, there are more significant electrical issues you must rule out to ensure safety. Check out solutions to these common problems first before you call in the pros.


Tighten Loose Light Bulbs. Checking for loose light bulbs might be an obvious solution. But it’s worth mention-ing since it is a common issue and an easy fix. If the bulb isn’t connecting correctly in the socket, it can cause flickering. Turn off the light and use a glove to protect your hand from heat while you screw in the bulb more tightly.

Loose Connections. Another simple check is for a loose connection between the plug and the outlet. Simply replug lamp cords that have come loose.

Check Your Dimmer-Switch Lights. Sometimes the wrong light bulb for your type of dimmer switch causes flickering. If you have older dimmer switches and newer LED lighting and experience flickering, your dimmer switch is a bright place to start your troubleshooting. Replace the dimmer switch or check for loose wiring behind it. Consider upgrading your bulbs to the more expensive but effective smart bulbs, which change from warm to cool white on demand. For the most part, incandescent lamps are pretty quiet and have no trouble with humming. When installed with a dimmer, they are more susceptible to noise issues such as buzzing. A solution may be replacing your old incandescent bulb with a 130-volt one. These bulbs have a more solid filament to reduce buzzing.

Faulty Fixtures. Has your bedside lamp seen better days? If it’s old, broken, rusty, has a cracked cord, or has a loose on-off switch, flickering may result. Replace the bulb, but if that doesn’t work, it could be the fixture that needs replacing.


If these simple things do not fix your flickering lights, it’s time to look for more significant issues. Even one loose wiring connection may be enough to spark a house fire. Some electrical connections are dangerous for the amateur to investigate, so call an experienced electrician.

Overloaded Circuits. When your electricity usage demands more than your circuit can handle, it may become overloaded. Large appliances and HVAC units can cause lights to flicker when they power on because they draw a large current from the circuit. It’s best to involve an experienced electrician to look into flickering when it is consistent, severe, or persistent, as it may indicate circuit overloading. A professional can check that your circuit breakers can safely power everything in your home. An overloaded circuit breaker is dangerous. In addition to causing flickering lights, it may even damage appliances, shut down your power, or cause sparks that could lead to a fire.

Loose Wiring. Loose wiring is one of the leading causes of house fires and something you should not ignore. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that 67% of home fires trace back to wiring issues. Lighting fixtures, switches, an overworn breaker box connection, or loose service conductors in your main electrical panel can all contain loose wiring. Have an electrician examine your wiring if you’ve tried multiple methods to address the flickering and it’s still an issue.

Electric Utility Service Issues. If you live in a neighborhood, your home likely shares a transformer with your neighbors. If someone down the street engages in heavy electrical use, it can cause your lights to flicker. An electrician or someone from the utility is needed to investigate and determine the best next steps.

Fluctuating Electrical Voltage. A standard 120-volt circuit in your home should have a reading between 115 and 120 volts. A voltmeter can show you this read-ing. If it is higher than 125 volts, this could be why your lights are flickering. There are many reasons the voltage in your home may be too high, but this usually points to a fault in your electrical system. You need to call an electrician immediately if this situation arises.

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