Are Your Lights Dimming or Flickering?

Many of us who live or work in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield have been in a room where a light begins to flicker or dim. This deviation can be a normal, occasional occurrence.

Flickering Lights

If on the other hand the dimming or flickering is new and pronounced, more regular or increasingly severe, we will want to investigate further. We need to make sure it is not a serious electrical issue that could lead to bigger concerns.

If you begin to notice an erratic light, you can start by assessing it on a scale of smaller to larger issue as follows.

Flicker: One Light

The matter could be just a loose or faulty bulb. Try turning the switch off and tightening the bulb. (Make sure the bulb has cooled or that you’re otherwise protecting your hands.) If that doesn’t fix it, try replacing the bulb.

A bulb’s type can also cause it to flicker or dim. If you’re using a fluorescent bulb, for instance, it might blink when being turned on or when the temperature is cold.

If you’re using an LED bulb with a dimmer switch, note that dimmers are built for higher electrical loads and may not always work well with lower-voltage LEDs (or with fluorescent bulbs, for that matter). Be sure to use dimmable bulbs that are suitable for the switch. In addition, verify the lamp and the dimmer are compatible, and check the wattage of both the dimmer and the lamps on the same circuit.

Should the flicker continue beyond addressing the bulb, check the connection between the light’s plug and the outlet. Ensure the plug is securely in the socket. Also verify the plug’s prongs are not bent. If they are, adjust them and try reinserting the plug.

One other problem source can be a bad connection between the light or fixture switch and the bulb. If you suspect this, gently wiggle the switch to see if it causes a flicker. Also see if turning the switch off and on fixes the issue. If it does, you have a bad switch and should replace it.

Flicker: More Than One Light in One Area 

Sometimes several light fixtures might be flickering within a single room or region of the home or office. This can indicate a circuit problem. In this case, promptly consult a professional electrician for a proper inspection.

Flicker: Large Appliances

Large appliances such as a washing machine or an air conditioner can demand much from the central circuit breaker, particularly when they are starting up. If the appliances draw more current than the circuit can handle, lights may start to flicker or dim.

If the blinking is minor or infrequent, and it typically coincides with turning on the large appliance, you may not have a problem you need to address. If however the flicker remains regular or increases, the issue could be with the appliance (e.g. bearing failure in the motor) or the greater electrical system. This is another instance in which you will want to consult a professional electrician.

Flicker: More Than One Light in Different Areas

Lights blinking beyond one room or region and apart from large appliances turning on can point to difficulty with the electrical service, such as loose conductors in the central panel. Just one loose circuit connection can compromise your entire system and develop into a fire hazard. If you have flickering lights throughout your spaces, contact an electrician as soon as possible. This could be an issue within the electrical panel or at the circuit breakers.

Flicker: Neighborhood

Some flickering lights may be resulting from a transformer shared with other homes or offices on your street: Heavy loads by them could be affecting your supply.

If the shared transformer isn’t the source, the problem is likely with the electric company itself. In this event, join with your neighbors in discussing and reporting the issue.

Professional Support When You Need It

Above all, be safe and rely on common sense when assessing a flickering light. If initial troubleshooting leads you to think your situation might involve more than checking a plug, a bulb or a basic switch, contact an electrician before doing anything else.

Trinity Electrical Services specializes in electrical work and problem-solving for the West Suburbs, including Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield. If you have questions concerning flickering lights, we will be glad to answer them for you. Simply contact us at (630) 499-1492.

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