Denny's Electric A division of HomeServe USA Energy Services

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Why Are My Lights Flickering?

We have all experienced some type and level of electrical problem, whether we live in an apartment or in a house, such as the lights flickering.

Have you ever experienced using your microwave and the lights flickering or dimming while it’s on? Is this indicative of a bigger electrical problem?

An occasional light flicker is quite normal. Now, if it starts happening regularly, and/or becomes severe, you should find out what’s behind it.


Here are some common reasons why house lights flicker or blink:

Easier ones to fix are problems with the bulb (not in tight enough, wrong bulb type for dimmer switch), loose light plug, and faulty light or fixture switch.

Also, appliances pulling large amounts of currents on startup can cause a voltage drop, resulting in flickering or dimming lights – which is probably what happens to your microwave when you use it. If you experience this when you’re running a dryer, air conditioner, or microwave, check to see if the lights are on the same circuit as the appliance. You could be dealing with a circuit that is outdated or wired to run more appliances than it can handle.

In addition to sensory overload on a circuit, the following can cause flickering or dimming lights: voltage fluctuations, loose or outdated wiring, issues with the meter box or main service cable connection, problems with the electric utility and service, bad weather and storms.

Improper Wiring

Another reason your lights could be dimming unexpectedly is because the wiring throughout your home is outdated or too insufficient to handle the amount of current it uses. When the electrical service has a demand for too much current, the voltage can drop, causing your lights to dim. Many older houses have this problem; they simply weren’t built to handle the electrical loads of today’s modern household, which typically features many devices or appliances that all require large amounts of power. If this is the case, you may require new wiring or a new service – ask an electrician.

Loose or Corroded Neutral Wire

If the lights in your house are fluctuating between bright and dim, there may be a loose or corroded neutral wire in your circuit breaker. A broken neutral wire means that the return path to the electrical panel is incomplete, which can cause imbalances in the two main power wires. When your lights brighten they are receiving too much voltage, and when they are dimming, they are receiving too little. If this problem worsens, your electrical devices could end up receiving far too much or too little power and become damaged. Loose or bad connections are the major cause of fires and other safety hazards. Contact an electrician as soon as possible.

If the lights are flickering throughout the house, it likely means there’s a problem at the meter box connection or main service cable connection; since these are high capacity wires, this could be a fire hazard.

These are common reasons house lights flicker, but there could be many other possibilities. Bottom line is, while having flickering lights may be a simple thing to fix, you should never ignore the problem – it can be a symptom of a larger electrical issue.

As always, when in doubt, or you feel uncomfortable troubleshooting, do not hesitate to get professional help! If you have continual trouble with flickering lights, always consult an electrician. Electricity can be very dangerous to work with and your safety is imperative.

At Denny’s Electric Service, as a full service residential electrical contractor, we pride ourselves on being committed to delivering not only quality workmanship and superior service, but also making sure you and your loved ones are safe in your home.

Your search for reliable and skilled electrical contractors or electrician can end right here – contact Denny’s Electric Service today to receive quality residential electrical services.

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