What Flickering Lights Tell You

19September 2018

flickering lights Bentonville AR

Don’t Ignore Flickering Lights

Sometimes, flickering lights add drama.  But in most cases, its undesirable, annoying, and even dangerous!

A brief flicker or a slight dimming can become more prominent over time – indicating poor connections that should be addressed immediately.  Here’s a quick look at the common causes of flickering lights in your house.

1. If the same set of lights flicker in one area – This could be caused by a bad light bulb or a faulty connection between the light fixture socket and the light bulb.

If the flickering lights are across several light fixtures but is limited to a single area within your home, it could point to a circuit issue.

Have your electrician conduct a circuit diagnosis to locate the conductor causing the issue.  It could be a receptacle, switch, j-box or even the main electrical panel.

2. If the lights flicker when an appliance is turned on – This is a common problem with air conditioning units. Large outdoor A/Cs can pull as much as 100 or more amps when switched on.  Unfortunately, most houses only have a 200 amp main electrical service.

The best course of action is to contact an electrician who can make sure that the outdoor unit is wired to the maximum ampacity. In addition, wire size and fusing should also be appropriate and connections must be tight.

If nothing seems to be amiss and everything looks good, try having a soft start kit installed on your outdoor A/C unit.  This lessens the amount of current needed when the motor starts.

3. If the lights still flicker but the flickering isn’t caused by any large appliance – This indicates loose service conductors in the main electrical panel or meter base. Don’t delay calling your electrician because this is a fire hazard!

4. If your neighbors have the same problem – If everyone in the neighborhood seems to have the same problem, then this is likely an electric company issue or a heavy load issue. Causes could range from a tree branch, debris falling on power lines, a lightning strike, animals, or even an interference which trigger a quick shut off to that section (lasting a few seconds).  Shutting the power off briefly allows the electric company to isolate the problem, allowing them to limit the damage.  On the other hand, flickering could be caused by heavy loads at your neighbor’s place because you share a transformer.

Whatever the cause, ignoring flickering lights is a never a good idea.  Always investigate and have a licensed electrician do a thorough screening.