A flickering light bulb is the electrical equivalent of a dripping faucet. At first, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal. It’s certainly nothing worth getting upset about! That positive mentality will last about a day. Maybe two. After that, the flickering will start chipping away at your sanity. Next thing you know, you’ll have thrown the flickering bulb out the window. Along with the lamp… and the table it was on…and the chunk of drywall it was plugged into…
It’s a grim vision of the future, but it doesn’t have to be your future. Not if you can stop the infernal flickering before it’s too late. To do that, you have to figure out what’s causing the flickering in the first place. Once you do that, you can figure out whether you can fix the problem yourself. To figure out why your lights are flickering, try answering the following questions:
1. Is It Loose?
This is the most common and easily-fixed reason your light bulb could flicker. If the bulb isn’t seated in its socket properly, it’ll periodically disconnect from its power supply. When the bulb flickers quickly and repetitively, it’s continually re-connecting and disconnecting from the power in the lamp. If the light flickers whenever you nudge the lamp, then the bulb’s probably loose.
Fixing a loose bulb is just as easy it sounds: just tighten it. Conventional light bulbs screw into the lamps. Once they’re fully tightened, the bulb’s receiver connects with the lamp’s power supply securely. To tighten your bulb, simply turn the bulb clockwise in its socket. Make sure you let the bulb cool down before you touch it! You should also be careful not to apply too much force to the bulb’s glass. Don’t try to force the tightening; if it’s not easy to turn, then it doesn’t need to be tightened.
2. Is It Faulty?
If the bulb doesn’t seem loose but it flickers constantly, it could simply not be working correctly. Incandescent light bulbs can stop working correctly for all kinds of reasons. Contact problems, faulty wiring connections, worn-out receptacles, or a bad filament can all cause flickering. Often, these problems occur as the light bulb ages. They could also happen as the result of wear-and-tear, improper voltage, or bad wiring inside the fixture.
If a faulty light bulb is really causing your flickering problem, replacing that light bulb should solve the problem. Replacing light bulbs is easy and relatively cheap. First, turn out the light. Wait for the bulb to cool down, then unscrew the light bulb from the fixture. Write down the wattage listed on the bulb, so you can replace it correctly. Then, simply dispose of the faulty bulb and replace it with a new one. As long as you tightened the new bulb correctly, your flickering should stop immediately.
3. Is It the Light Switch?
If you’ve tried steps 1 and 2, the problem may not be with the offending light bulb at all. In that case, the next thing you should troubleshoot is the light switch. A bad connection in your fixture’s on-off switch may result in irregular flickering. Try gently wiggling the on-off switch back and forth several times. Only wiggle your switch enough to move the switch, not enough to turn the light on and off.
If the light dims or flickers as you wiggle the switch, then you’ve found your problem. If you have a bad light switch, the only way to stop the flickering is to replace the switch. How easily you’ll be able to do that depends on the problematic switch. If the switch connects to the lamp directly, then repairing the lamp could do the trick. If the switch mounts to the nearby wall, then it’ll require some rewiring or wiring repair.
4. Is It the Fixture?
If the switch and bulb seem to work correctly, then the problem could be with the fixture itself. Try taking the lightbulb out of the flickering fixture and try it in a different fixture. If possible, you should also move the flickering fixture itself. Plug it into a different power source and see if it still flickers. If the fixture flickers wherever you take it, then it’s the problem. Light fixtures flicker when there’s a problem with their internal wiring.
Again, the way you’ll solve this particular problem depends on the specific fixture. If the fixture isn’t connected to your home directly, then you can probably take to be repaired somewhere. A lamp repair person could relatively easily repair a lamp’s internal wiring, for instance. If the fixture is connected to your home, however, then you’ll need a professional electrician’s help.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of reasons why your light bulb could be flickering. Improper in-home voltage, a faulty breaker, or even bad whole-home wiring could all bring about the infernal flickering, too. We focused on these four possible causes because they’re the easiest (and safest) to check yourself.
Flickering light bulbs aren’t just annoying–they can also be dangerous. If none of the problems above explain why your bulbs keep flickering, then there could be something seriously wrong with your home’s electrical system. If that’s the case, call Mike Diamond right away. Our licensed expert electricians will find and fix your problem fast.